Assault charges in New York can range from A and B misdemeanors punishable by up to a year or 90 days in jail respectively, to extremely serious felonies punishable by multiple decades in state prison. The severity of the charges in a particular case, as well as the potential sentences, will be dictated by the facts and circumstances of the particular allegations as well as the criminal history of the person being charged.

Assault in the Third Degree, Penal Law 120.00(1), is perhaps the most commonly charged Assault offense. It is an A misdemeanor, or B misdemeanor if it is charged as an Attempt. This charge will be handled in the Criminal Court in New York City, or in the local town or village court if the case originates in Westchester County, Rockland County, or elsewhere outside of NYC. If convicted of this charge, an individual is subject to a range of possible sentences from time in local jail or Rikers Island, to two or three years of probation, to community service and/or fines and surcharges. To be found guilty of this charge, a prosecutor must be able to prove that the person intended to cause physical injury to another person and did actually cause physical injury to another person. This is fairly straightforward on the surface, but comes packed with a great deal of technicalities and nuance. For one, “physical injury” is a technical term, and it is a relatively low threshold. Something as simple and subjective as “substantial pain” can constitute physical injury, and the more obvious examples are cuts and bruises. This charge comes up frequently in the context of Domestic Violence cases, which bring a whole other level of seriousness and complexity to a particular case.

While misdemeanors are serious matters that can have far-reaching impacts on people’s lives and livelihoods, this is even more true when it comes to felony Assault charges such as Assault in the Second Degree under Penal Law 120.05, Assault in the First Degree under Penal Law 120.10, Gang Assault and Vehicular Assault charges. Assault in the Second Degree essentially amounts to an Assault in the Third Degree charge with the addition of at least one of many different possible aggravating factors. Perhaps the most common examples of these aggravating factors are where the person is accused of using a weapon in the commission of the assault (which can even include things such as shoes, boots or a wall, as well as more traditional weapons), or where the injuries rise to the level of “serious physical injury.” Like “physical injury,” “serious physical injury is a technical term with a very specific definition that includes serious and protracted disfigurement, protracted impairment of health, impairment of a bodily organ or a substantial risk of death. Assault in the First Degree is similar, but includes what might be consider even more serious aggravating circumstances or combinations of circumstances such as both using a weapon and causing serious physical injury. The term Gang Assault can be misleading as it does not require proof of the accused person being in any kind of “gang,” but rather it simply refers to an assault committed by three or more people acting together. All of these elevated felony assault charges are punishable by long state prison sentences up to 25 years.

Contact The Law Office of Samuel S. Coe today to consult with an experienced Assault and violent felony defense attorney and former Manhattan prosecutor.