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CT defense lawyerThere are many different degrees of criminal assault, each with its own set of criteria that must be proven at trial. However, this can be quite confusing for someone who has been charged with assault, because you may not be aware of what the prosecution has to prove and what it does not. Having a good understanding of the case against you is an important way that you can keep a realistic picture of your chances in court.

Assault Charges Are Very Specific

Connecticut recognizes numerous specific degrees of assault charges, understanding that arguments and fights that get out of hand are quite different from an intentional and malicious attack. Intent is a major factor in determining what degree to charge someone with, but it is not the only factor - others include whether or not a weapon was used, the level of harm caused, and the identity of the victim (penalties will be stiffer, for example, if the victim is an elderly or disabled person).

It is important to keep in mind that factors about each defendant do not tend to affect the choice of charge; rather, if someone is convicted, it will be taken into account for sentencing purposes. Obviously, your aim is to avoid conviction and sentencing in the first place, but it is still a good idea to be aware of what the factors are that go into charges. The charge will reflect the overall event: if you caused minor injury to someone with your hands versus, say, attacking them with a knife or firearm.

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CT defense lawyerAllegations of bias or bigotry are very serious and becoming increasingly not tolerated in this day and age. Many states, including Connecticut, have instituted significant penalties that can be added onto a sentence if it can be proven that the underlying crime was committed with intent to harm or threaten a member of a minority group. If you find yourself charged with a hate crime on top of another charge, it is a very serious charge that cannot be ignored.

Two Crimes

To charge someone with a hate crime in Connecticut, it must be alleged that they either committed assault, vandalism (or another property crime), or harassment, for the express purpose of targeting a person based on their immutable characteristics. There are three degrees of “intimidation based on bigotry or bias,” as hate crimes are officially known in Connecticut, and in order for someone to be found guilty of any of them, the prosecution must show both that the underlying crime and the bigotry or bias are present.

So, for example, if you are charged with assault after attacking someone, and there is reason to believe that you did so based on their race, religion, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, the prosecution would have to prove both that you actually did commit the crime of assault, and that you did so against that particular person because of one or more of those characteristics. If the prosecutor cannot prove that you had the intent to attack that particular person out of hate or malice, you cannot be convicted of a hate crime.

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CT defense lawyerAssault is a serious crime, and being charged with first-degree assault means that your alleged actions were extremely serious. However, every case has multiple sides to it, and you are entitled to a good defense so that you are able to tell your story. Contacting an experienced criminal lawyer can help ensure you have the best chance to keep the record straight.

Charges Depend on Severity

There are three different degrees of assault under Connecticut law, with third-degree assault being a Class A misdemeanor, second being a Class D felony, and first-degree being a Class B felony. Which degree is charged largely depends on three factors: the severity of the harm, the intent of the attacker, and the identity of the victim (certain victim classifications, such as being elderly, pregnant, or disabled, will raise the charge or add time at sentencing). The presence or absence of a weapon can also make a difference.

There are several different ways that someone can be tried for first-degree assault - in other words, many different fact patterns will qualify for such a charge. Production of an injury to another person via the use of a firearm (or other dangerous instrument or deadly weapon), intent to produce serious or permanent disfigurement to another person, and reckless conduct capable of causing death that ultimately causes severe harm are all examples of fact patterns that will yield a charge in the first degree.

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