Simple assault may sound like a minor crime, but it is a complicated offense in the state of Georgia.
Georgia classifies the crime of simple assault as a “Crime Against the Person.” Due to this, many individuals facing charges of simple assault believe that they must have actually physically injured someone to face charges. When this is not the case and a person is still charged with simple assault, they are left surprised and wondering why they are being accused of a crime.
This is a common scenario. If you have been charged with simple assault, regardless of whether you actually hurt someone else, you must speak to a Georgia criminal defense lawyer right away.
Defining Simple Assault in Georgia
In Georgia, simple assault is defined as attempting to inflict violent injury on another person, or committing an act that places another reasonable person in fear of immediate bodily harm. Under the Georgia statute, even making a fist and shaking it at another person violently could be considered simple assault, even if that person was not harmed.
Not only does the accused not have to actually inflict bodily harm in order to face charges, but also, they do not even have to have the intent to hurt another person. This was decided in Georgia case law during the trial and appeal of Smith v. State. The prosecution does not have to prove that the defendant actually intended to hurt the other person in order to face charges of simple assault.
Simple assault in Georgia is classified as a misdemeanor. Individuals convicted of the crime can face up to 12 months in prison and a maximum fine of $1,000. Probation and restitution to the victim are also possible penalties for simple assault.
Defenses to Simple Assault Charges
Due to the fact that simple assault does not require an actual injury, or even clear intent, it is easy for accused individuals to think that the situation is hopeless. However, it is not.
Although there are a few possible defenses in simple assault cases, the best is typically self-defense. In Georgia, a person may use force against another person when they believe that other person is going to use force to harm them. Under Georgia’s Stand Your Ground law, a person may even use deadly force when they reasonably believe that such force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily injury to himself or herself or a third person or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
Self-defense in Georgia, like in all other states, is an affirmative defense. This means you are not denying that you took the actions you are accused of, but that you only took them because you feared for your own safety.
Accused of Simple Assault? Call Our Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyers
Simple assault charges can sometimes be difficult to beat for accused individuals, which is why it is so important that you call a Norcross criminal defense attorney if you are facing charges. At Zimmerman & Associates, we know the defenses to use in these cases to give you the best chance of beating your charges or getting them reduced to a lesser charge. Call us today at (770) 350-0100 to learn more about how we can help with your case.