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Defenses to Aggravated Assault Charges in Tennessee  

Aggravated assault in Tennessee is intentionally or knowingly committing a battery that results in bodily injury to another, death, or the use of a deadly weapon. Strangulation, a parent’s failure to protect a child from an aggravated assault TN, and other situations are all examples of aggravated assault.

Aggravated assault is defined in Tennessee Code § 39-13-102 (2019). Aggravated assault is classified as a Class C felony or D felony, depending on the circumstances. The penalties for a misdemeanor are up to 11 months and 29 days in jail or a $2,500 fine. Depending on the class of the felony, the maximum sentence can range from 2 to 15 years in prison and/or $10,000. Other influencing factors include whether the victim was a law enforcement officer or family member.

What are the consequences of being convicted of an aggravated assault?

Although many people are concerned about the penalties and jail time, a person convicted for aggravated assault may have several long-term consequences. Convictions can have an impact on your ability to get work, as “ban the box” laws only apply to state employers. This means that if an employer does a background check, your record could determine whether or not you are hired. You might also lose your professional license, security clearance, and/or the right to bear arms.

Penalties for misdemeanor and felony convictions range from fines to jail time. Losing your right to drive or work in certain industries, such as the military or law enforcement, may also result from a traffic conviction. An aggravated assault charge might even prevent you from voting or participating in political campaigns. Last but not least, a felony conviction can jeopardize your eligibility for student aid, as well as your ability to live on campus.

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In an aggravated assault case, there are a number of defenses that may be utilized.

In all criminal cases, including aggravated assault, the prosecution must establish each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. You are presumed innocent. If evidence was obtained in violation of your civil rights, it may be excluded.

In cases of aggravated assault, several defenses may be used, including:

Self-defense is legal in most states. It’s often acceptable to defend yourself (and others) against bodily harm, as long as your response is appropriate. Self-defense is usually a valid defense if the attack was necessary to avoid imminent injury. If you agree to fight someone and that person gets injured – this sort of assault is frequently not – you can be charged with aggravated assault.

The cops have the wrong person in custody. You have the right, when necessary, to declare that you are not involved in the event. If the allegation is false, you have a responsibility to correct it.

There was no malicious intent. If you inadvertently cause injury to someone but it wasn’t your intention, you should be held responsible for negligence rather than aggravated assault.

There was no assault. You have the legal right to question whether the individual who filed charges against you was actually injured or placed in danger.

In Tennessee, you may be charged with aggravated assault if you injure someone else while using your phone in a threatening manner.

If a simple assault charge cannot be reduced, our attorneys may aim to have it downgraded to an aggravated assault. A simple assault is generally a Class A or Class B misdemeanor. Not only does the penalty differ – fines and jail times are lower, and in some cases you might be able to avoid imprisonment entirely – but you will also lose fewer rights.

Additional counts of aggravated assault are possible.

If you can’t use these defensive strategies, there are still things you can do to lessen the penalties for an aggravated assault conviction. A judicial diversion might be available to first-time offenders who receive a sentence of imprisonment. In such situations, the judge may postpone sentencing for a set length of time, during which the offender must comply with probation, therapy, and/or service in the community. If the defendant avoids any legal problems during that time period, the charges might be dropped altogether.

In other cases, the court may suspend sentencing. This means that instead of going to prison, the offender must serve his or her time in probation. A person with a suspended sentence still has a criminal conviction, however, and will still risk losing any and/or all rights that he or she would have lost for a felony conviction; it just means the person won’t be incarcerated.

Our criminal defense attorneys in Johnson City, Tennessee, have been aggressively defending clients for years at CDR Law. We strive to obtain dismissals before and acquittals after a trial. We frequently are able to negotiate plea agreements or lesser sentences. Clients who have been charged with felonies and misdemeanors come to us. Please contact our office at 423-441-6900 or fill out our contact form to book an appointment. CDR Law takes pride in our attorney client relationship, knowing Tennessee assault laws and doing all we can to get your criminal charges dropped. We service the areas of Johnson City, Elizabethton and the Tri Cities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Tennessee law does not define “aggravated assault”, but most likely refers to what is often called “assault with intent.” According to the law, aggravated assault occurs when an offender acts willfully or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another person who is incapacitated.

The punishment for aggravated assault in Tennessee is determined based on the severity of injury. That being said, there are statutes that have prescribed punishments but they generally differ by county and court zoned jurisdiction. For example, if the assault causes unconsciousness or serious bodily injury then it’s punishable at least by one year in jail with a potential sentence up to 4 years. Assault causing unlawful use of a weapon may be punishable by 2-12 years in prison beginning from indictment for any injuries inflicted. The state statute also provides additional sentencing enhancements if the perpetrator knew or should have known that any victim could not effectively resist, because of age or physical condition; has committed who crime against an officer engaged in law enforcement duties; commits this offense against anyone participating in a legal process; commits the offense against an elderly person 65 years of age or older.

All states have penalties that are specific to aggravated assault charges. Some common ones are jail time, fines, probation and community service. It really depends on the situation and the state in which it occurred so speak with a lawyer to find out more information related specifically to you.

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