Are you or a loved one facing criminal assault charges in Columbus, OH? Don’t delay in calling the Columbus assault defense lawyer at the Law Office of James D. Owen, LLC for help. With more than 30 years of experience defending clients against serious criminal matters, we know what’s at stake. You can trust that we’ll fight tirelessly to defend you and secure the best possible result in your case.
Our Columbus criminal lawyer offers a free consultation, so give us a call today to learn more.
How Will a Criminal Defense Lawyer Help Me If I’m Facing Assault Charges in Columbus?
It’s important to know that you have the right to an attorney if you are charged with the crime of assault. This is critical because a criminal record can negatively impact your future. For that reason, our Columbus criminal defense attorney will fight hard to keep the offense off your record or have the charges reduced. This includes exploring all possible defenses and negotiating with the prosecuting attorney.
Our team will represent you in every step of the court process, including pretrial conferences and jury selection. If necessary, our accomplished trial attorney will fight for you in court and during sentencing. Don’t settle for less. Our main practice area is criminal law and we have a proven track record of winning tough criminal cases. Call our Columbus, OH law offices today to schedule a time to discuss your today.
Overview of Assault in Columbus, OH
In the state of Ohio, the crime of assault includes both assault and battery. Assault involves attempting to hurt another person, while battery occurs when actual harm is caused. Note that in all assault and battery cases, the class of victims includes unborn children. That said, there are several categories of assault under Ohio law.
If you use a deadly weapon in an unreasonable or reckless manner that leads to another person being physically harmed, you may be charged with negligent assault. An example would be an alcohol-related hunting accident.
By contrast, a simple assault involves a person knowingly causing or attempting to cause harm to another person. An example would be punching the person that cut you off in traffic.
In other cases, a person is provoked by someone and then responds in a fit of rage. If this leads to serious harm, the individual could be charged with aggravated assault. This crime also includes acting out of the heat of passion or causing or attempting to cause harm with a deadly weapon.
It can be helpful to think of this crime as a type of “imperfect” self-defense, meaning the person responded disproportionately to another’s advances. For example, if someone started calling you names and you responded by beating them up to the point of hospitalization, this could qualify as aggravated assault.
Now, if an automobile is involved in an assault, the driver could be charged with vehicular assault. Note that the definition of “vehicle” is broad and includes cars, motorcycles, watercraft, aircraft, and snowmobiles. This offense occurs alongside other traffic violations, such as reckless operation, speeding in a construction zone, and driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
A more severe form of assault in Ohio is referred to as felonious assault. Here, a person knowingly causes serious harm to someone without the type of provocation involved in an aggravated assault. Note that this classification also includes knowingly causing or attempting to cause harm with the use of a deadly weapon.
Keep in mind that it is also considered felonious assault to have sexual intercourse with someone if you know that you have AIDS they are under 18 years of age, or they are over 18 and you do not warn them.
What Are the Penalties For Assault in Ohio?
As you might imagine, the severity of an assault penalty depends largely on how it is classified:
Negligent assault: is considered a third-degree misdemeanor. This can result in jail time of up to 60 days and $500 in fines.
Simple assault: is considered a first-degree misdemeanor. This can result in jail time of up to 6 months and $1000 in fines.
Aggravated assault: is considered a fourth-degree felony. This can result in a prison sentence of between 6 and 18 months and $5000 in fines.
Note that if the victim of the aggravated assault was a peace officer, this is considered a third-degree felony in Ohio. In this case, the punishment increases to between 9 months and 5 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
Vehicular assault: is considered a third-degree felony. This can result in a prison sentence of between 9 months and 5 years and $10,000 in fines. The offender is also subject to having his or her license suspended.
In cases where the person was driving on a suspended license when the assault occurred, the charge may be increased to a second-degree felony. This also applies if the individual has a prior conviction of vehicular assault on their record. Here, the penalty increases to between 2 and 8 years in prison and fines up to $20,000.
Felony assault: is considered a second-degree felony. This can result in a prison sentence of between 2 and 8 years and $20,000 in fines.
Keep in mind that sentencing for second and third-degree felonies increases if the offender has any prior charges involving violence. This can lead to a prison sentence of up to 10 years. Further, the person may be subject to post-release control for up to 3 years. This involves supervision by the parole authority, and conditions may include:
- Random drug testing
- Mandatory counseling
- Restrictions on leaving the county or city
- Reporting activities to the parole authority
Note that all of the above crimes may include a requirement that the offender provides restitution to the victim.
Defending Against Assault Charges in Columbus
Now, as with all criminal charges, the prosecution has the burden of proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a high bar and requires evidence that establishes your mental state at the time. Asserting a strong defense can make it a lot harder for the prosecution to do its job. Our firm will pursue any defense that might work for your case.
It Was an Accident
Keep in mind that most assault charges require a person to have acted either knowingly or recklessly. This means that for most assault charges (with the exception of negligent assault), unintentional behavior can be asserted as a defense. If successful, that could lead to your charges being either reduced or dropped.
Note that there are certain constitutional defenses that may also come into play. An example would be if you were the victim of an illegal search and seizure. In most cases, law enforcement is required to obtain a search warrant or base their actions on probable cause. If either of these is lacking, you may be able to have any evidence they gathered “suppressed,” meaning kept out of court.
The same rule applies to statements and confessions made following an arrest if you were not properly read your Miranda rights.
Because these cases can get complicated, it is important to reach out to a qualified attorney that can advise you as to how these types of violations may affect your case.
Another basis for defending against an assault charge is if you acted in self-defense. However, to qualify, the amount of force you used or threatened to use must have been proportionate to the harm that you reasonably feared was about to occur.
Bear in mind that the fact that your belief later turned out to be mistaken does not mean you can’t use this defense. The test is whether a reasonable person would have reached the same conclusion based on the circumstances. For example, let’s say that someone was threatening you with an unloaded gun. Here, unless you had reason to know that the gun was unloaded, it would likely be considered reasonable to have responded as if the weapon was loaded.
That said, there is a duty to retreat in Ohio, provided that it is safe to do so. But, this rule does not apply if you are in your home or in your car. Further, there is a presumption that you acted in self-defense if someone unlawfully entered or was in the process of entering your home or vehicle and you were occupying at the time.
Battered Woman Syndrome
In cases of domestic violence, the victim can bring in evidence known as “battered woman syndrome” to help establish self-defense. This involves expert testimony that corroborates a person’s reasonable belief that the danger was significant enough to warrant the amount of force that was used.
It’s important to note that using this defense means that you are admitting to harming someone. It is also known as an “affirmative defense” which means that you are required to prove that your use of force was justified beyond a reasonable doubt. Here, there can be no grey area as to whether it was acceptable to respond the way you did.
Contact Our Columbus Assault Defense Lawyer Today for a Free Consultation
As you can see, criminal assault cases can be quite complex. Assault is a serious criminal offense and can lead to significant penalties. For that reason, having a qualified criminal defense lawyer in Columbus on your side is important and will help ensure that you explore all options available to you.
Don’t go it alone. Contact our Franklin county office today for legal advice and a free initial consultation.