What Is Assault Under New York Law?
New York law defines assault as an act of intentionally causing injury to another person without legal justification. Depending on the circumstances of the offense, the seriousness of the alleged victim’s injury, and other factors, assault can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony in New York.
Under New York law, there are three degrees of assault:
- Assault in the third degree
- Assault in the second degree
- Assault in the first degree
Assault in the Third Degree
Under New York State Penal Law § 120.00, assault in the third degree is a Class A misdemeanor offense. A person can be charged with assault in the third degree when they cause injury to another person through:
- Intentional conduct
- Criminal negligence
An example of assault in the third degree would be punching someone without the intent to cause serious injuries. Possible penalties for a Class A misdemeanor include three years probation or up to a year in jail, plus no more than $1,000 in fines.
Assault in the Second Degree
You can be charged with assault in the second degree (a Class D felony in New York) when you intentionally cause serious physical injury to another person or cause any injury with a deadly weapon. Examples include recklessly injuring another person with a deadly weapon or assaulting a peace officer when the officer is performing his/her duties. Penalties carry up to seven years in state prison.
Assault in the First Degree
A person can be charged with assault in the first degree (a Class B felony) when they:
- Intend to cause serious bodily injury to another person and they actually cause the intended serious injury; or
- Intend to cause injury to another person by using a deadly weapon
Common examples of assault in the first degree include stabbing and shooting cases. The punishment can include up to 25 years in prison.
Possible Defenses to Assault in New York
Several defense strategies may be available in your assault case. Depending on the circumstances of the offense, you might be able to use the following defenses to defend yourself against the charges:
- Lack of intent. You did not intend to cause harm to the alleged victim.
- Lack of injury. The alleged victim did not actually suffer a physical injury due to your actions.
- Self-defense. You used physical force in response to a threat of force or harm.
- Mistaken identity. You were not the one who caused bodily injury to the alleged victim.