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Assault on a Federal Officer
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Getting into an altercation with a federal officer or employee can have serious consequences, including charges of assault. These types of cases are tried in federal court and tend to be prosecuted more aggressively, making it especially important for those who have been charged with this offense to retain a federal crime lawyer who will aggressively represent their interests in court.
Elements of Assault
Before a person can be convicted of assaulting a federal officer, prosecutors must be able to prove that:
- The defendant forcibly assaulted a federal officer or employee;
- The assault occurred while the officer was engaged in, or on account of his or her official duties; and
- The defendant made physical contact and acted with the intent to commit another felony.
In order to qualify as a federal employee or officer, a person must have:
- Been employed by the U.S.;
- Worked for a U.S. agency; or
- Been a member of the uniformed services.
Forcible assaults against those who formerly served as a federal officer on account of the performance of those official duties can also be prosecuted under this federal statute. There is also no requirement that a defendant have been aware of the victim’s status to be convicted of this offense. Furthermore, defendants are not permitted to raise the defense of voluntary intoxication.
If physical contact was made between the assailant and the federal officer, or the defendant intended to commit another felony at the time of the assault, then the accused faces up to eight years in prison. However, if the altercation only satisfied the requirements of a simple assault, a defendant may only end up serving a year in prison. If a defendant is accused of using a deadly weapon during the assault or of causing bodily injury, the possible prison sentence is increased to 20 years. This is true even if a person did not intend to cause a bodily injury. A weapon is considered deadly if it is used in such a way that it is capable of causing serious bodily injury or death.
Injuring the Family Member of a Federal Officer
Defendants who attack the family members of a federal officer face additional federal charges if the altercation included an assault or threat of assault against the spouse, parent, sibling, or child of a current or former United States official, judge, or federal law enforcement officer. If the assault did not include physical contact, a defendant faces up to one year in prison. However, if physical contact was involved, the term of imprisonment increases to 10 years. When a bodily injury was sustained as a result of the assault, the accused could be sentenced to 20 years in prison, unless a weapon was used during the assault, in which case the sentence will be increased to 30 years.
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Offenses involving assaults against federal employees are aggressively investigated and prosecuted across the country.
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