Tennessee Assault Laws & Penalties

When you think of an assault you may picture a senseless, violent fight ending in serious injuries. However, most assaults are just disagreements and arguments that get out of hand. If you are facing assault charges in Tennessee, you probably already understand how easily these things can be blown out of proportion.

You may have had to defend yourself against an attack or got caught up in a bar brawl. These things happen. You may have done nothing to provoke the situation but are now the one facing criminal charges.

But if you have been arrested on an assault charge, you need the best legal advice you can get to try to avoid some potentially serious penalties. You need to make sure your side is heard and your rights are protected under the law.

We have handled a variety of assault cases in Tennessee and know what you are up against when facing the Tennessee criminal courts. So you can ask as about cases we’ve defended that are similar to yours, and what you can expect in court.

However, unlike other large firms we do not treat all cases the same. This is because we know that all cases are different. We are interested in helping the people behind the cases; we are interested in helping you.

Tennessee Assault Laws

The basic offense of assault is defined as:

  1. Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury to someone;
  2. Intentionally or knowingly causing another to reasonably fear imminent injury; or
  3. Intentionally or knowingly causing physical contact with someone that they would regard as offensive or provocative.

Does this mean I can be charged with assault even if I don’t touch someone?

Yes. If you cause someone to “reasonably fear” bodily injury, then you can be charged with assault, even if you do not touch them in any manner.

What is the Penalty for Assault under Tennessee Criminal Law? (if found guilty)

Assault is typically charged as a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail and fines reaching $2,500.

Ref: TCA 39-13-101

Aggravated Assault

Aggravated assault is a more serious offense than simple assault. If you commit an assault on a person and:

  1. It results in serious bodily injury; or
  2. Is committed with the use of a deadly weapon

The deadly weapon does not have to be physically used against the victim but merely displayed.

Your charge depends on your state of mind at the time of the offense. If the prosecution can prove that you acted intentionally, the offense is a Class C felony and is punishable by 3-15 years depending on your criminal history.

If however, the aggravated assault is committed recklessly then the charge is a Class D felony and is punished less severely. Class D felony aggravated assault carries a potential prison sentence of 2-12 years depending on any criminal record you might have.

Ref: TCA 39-13-102

Reckless Endangerment Laws

If you put someone at risk for injury you may be charged with this assaultive offense, reckless endangerment. Reckless endangerment can occur when you recklessly engage in conduct that places or may place someone in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury.

Reckless endangerment could arise from driving recklessly in an occupied parking lot, for instance. Typically, this offense is considered a Class A misdemeanor and is punishable by up to one year in jail and fines.

However, if the reckless endangerment occurs with a deadly weapon, the charge is elevated to a Class E felony which carries a potential sentence of 1-6 years.

Ref: TCA 39-13-103

Free Consultation on Tennessee Criminal Assault Charges

Assault is a serious offense taken very seriously by the Tennessee judicial system. But there are many things we can do to help you. We will of course, challenge the facts of the case, interview witnesses, and defend and protect you in court from unfair accusations. We will also fight hard to get charges reduced from aggravated assault to simple assault when these arrests are overcharges, as happens frequently. And we will also go to bat for you in plea negotiations and sentencing, arguing for reduced penalties in exchange for anger management classes, or other alternative sentences.

If you are facing charges like these, you need an experienced attorney with you on your day in court. Call for a consultation on your Tennessee assault case today.

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