Federal Assault Charges
While some people may be aware that they can be tried in state court for assault, few know that assault can also qualify as a federal offense. The penalties for a federal criminal offense tend to be much more severe than their state counterparts, so if you were charged with assault in federal court, it is crucial to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney who is knowledgeable about both state and federal law and can advise you.
Elements of Assault
To convict a person of assault in federal court, the prosecutor must demonstrate that he or she:
- Attempted to use violence against another person; or
- Committed an act that caused another person to reasonably expect impending harm.
Because assault does not necessarily require injury or physical contact, a person can be convicted of assault even if he or she never completes a violent act.
Whether an assault is tried in state court or federal court depends on a number of factors, including where the incident occurred. For instance, assaults that occur at national parks, federal prisons, or onboard a U.S. ship can be charged at the federal level. An assault can also qualify as a federal offense if it occurred during an attempt to steal property belonging to the government. Some assaults are considered federal crimes only because the victim is an employee of the government. This is because it is considered a federal offense to attack a federal employee on the job, even when the defendant wasn’t aware that the alleged victim was a government worker. This also applies to former government employees if they were attacked as a result of actions that they took while employed.
Any type of assault can be punished by jail time and a fine. However, the length of the sentence and the amount of the fine will depend on a number of factors, including the age of the victim and whether anyone was seriously injured during the altercation. For instance, a simple assault conviction is punishable by up to six months in jail. If the victim was under the age of 16 years old, however, the maximum term increases to one year. Alternatively, if an assault caused a serious injury, the defendant could be sentenced to ten years in prison. An injury is considered serious if it involves:
- A substantial risk of death;
- Extreme physical pain;
- Disfigurement; or
- Impairment of a body part.
If a defendant used a dangerous weapon, he or she could also face a ten year prison sentence, although if convicted of assault with the intent to commit murder, the prison term could be increased to 20 years.
Call a Dedicated Florida Criminal Defense Attorney Today
Being convicted of a serious federal offense can have devastating consequences for defendants, which makes it especially important for those who are charged with a criminal offense to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. Please contact a member of the legal team at Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. Criminal Defense Attorneys in Miami by calling 305-670-9919 today.