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    There’s a difference between assault and aggravated assault, especially when it comes to the penalties you could face if charged with either one. As Wendy Ghee explains, aggravated assault—which carries harsher penalties– typically means that a dangerous instrument was involved (such as a weapon of some sort). In some instances, you can also be charged with aggravated assault if the victim is in a protected class, such as a child, police officer, or defenseless individual.


    Assault, on the other hand, is a less severe offense that is normally categorized following a physical attack in which a weapon was not involved. For instance, explains The Ghee & Draper Law Firm, who practices as a criminal defense lawyer in Oxford, AL, a bar fight between two patrons is not usually classified as aggravated assault, unless of course one party introduced a weapon into the fight and the other party was unarmed.


    When charged with assault of either degree, The Ghee & Draper Law Firm says, you may be charged at the time of your arrest by the police officer. In other situations, the prosecutor may review the facts in the police report and then determine that aggravated assault is appropriate or that additional charges are needed.


    With regard to assault charges, there are presumptive maximum and minimum charges that could apply to your situation. Your goal, however, is to prove that there is an exceptional circumstance in your personal life that could essentially lessen the charge you receive. These circumstances, The Ghee & Draper Law Firm says, are specific to each individual’s situation and can include employment situations, family dynamics, kids at home, or a lack of criminal history. Every person has the potential of having an exceptional circumstance, The Ghee & Draper Law Firm adds. For instance, if a normal assault charge carries a three year probation sentence but there are exceptional circumstances, then the judge can choose to lessen the charge to two years instead.


    As with any other time you are arrested, The Ghee & Draper Law Firm says, you should hire an attorney as soon as possible, and definitely before your first scheduled court appearance. When meeting with your attorney for the first time, she recommends setting expectations for what you hope to achieve at the end of the case. You also need to be able to relay the events of what happened in great detail.


    In these types of criminal cases, your criminal history is paramount, The Ghee & Draper Law Firm explains, and can have a tremendous impact on the outcome of your case. If you have demonstrated violence in your past, it will be a much harder story to convey to the jury. However, if you have no criminal or violent history and it was just an isolated instance that got out of control, it is that much easier to convince a jury that you won’t have a repeat offense in the future.


    Of course, it’s hard to generalize what will and will not work for your case without knowing all of the specific details surrounding the event and your arrest. After meeting with a client and engaging in discussions, The Ghee & Draper Law Firm says, a clearer plan for how the case will unfold is more easily attainable.


    This article is for informational purposes only.  You should not rely on this article as a legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances, and you should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.  Publication of this article and your receipt of this article does not create an attorney-client relationship.