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Tennessee Assault Defenses

Under Tennessee assault laws, you can be charged with assault even if you dont touch someone. Thats because assault isnt necessarily the act of causing physical harm to another person. It can also be the act of making someone believe you are about to cause physical harm.

Causing physical harm to someone will be a more serious version of assault with a more serious penalty. In fact, it may even be a felony in Tennessee. Felonies are considered to be more serious crimes against the state and are usually punishable by a year or more in jail and hefty fines.

If you have been arrested and charged with assault, you will want to work with a Tennessee criminal attorney to come up with a defense strategy to help either keep you out of jail or at least reduce your sentence.

Tennessee Assault Charges Defined

According to Tennessee assault law, there are three definitions for assault.

The first is causing bodily injury to someone else, either knowingly or recklessly. For example, hitting someone with your fist would qualify as assault under this definition.

The second is knowingly or recklessly causing someone to reasonably fear that they might be injured imminently. For example, raising a hand at someone as if to hit them would qualify as assault under this definition.

The final definition of assault is knowingly causing physical contact with someone else that they would regard as offensive or provocative. For example, walking past someone and intentionally bumping into them could be construed as assault under this definition.

Types of Assault

There are many subcategories of assault under Tennessee assault law. The most basic form of assault, often referred to as simple assault, is considered a class A misdemeanor in Tennessee. This crime is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

More serious than simple assault is aggravated assault. Aggravated assault is when you cause serious bodily injury to another person or when you use a deadly weapon when assaulting someone.

The severity of the punishment for aggravated assault will depend on your intent when the assault occurred. For instance, if the aggravated assault was intentional, then you may be charged with a class C felony in Tennessee. This means that you could spend anywhere from 3 to 15 years in prison if convicted.

However, if there is no direct intention to commit aggravated assault and instead the assault was committed due to your reckless behavior, then the charge is considered a class D felony in Tennessee. A class D felony assault charge is punishable by 2 to 12 years in prison.

Common Assault Defenses

One of the most commonly relied upon assault defenses is known as self-defense. Self-defense is when you attempt to show you were attacked first and your attack was an attempt to protect yourself or someone else from physical injury. To successfully argue this defense, you will have to provide some evidence the other person attacked or threatened to attack first. You will also need to show that the amount of force you used to counter the attack was reasonable. If it is found that you used an unreasonably strong amount of force to protect yourself, you may still be found guilty of assault, although it may be a lesser charge.

Another common assault defense is consent. Consent means you and the alleged victim agreed to engage in an activity you both knew could result in injury. An example of this would be if two individuals agreed to engage in a wrestling match. Although this defense might not completely shield you from a conviction, it may reduce the charges against you.

Plea Agreements

In Tennessee, assault charges that are more serious can be negotiated down to a lesser charge. This is called a plea agreement. A plea agreement occurs when you and your attorney negotiate with the prosecution (the party in charge of proving your guilt). You then agree to plead guilty to lesser charges, so that everyone can bypass an extensive trial and you dont have to serve an extended time in jail.

Whether the self-defense defense, consent, or a plea agreement is right for you will be up to you and your lawyer to decide. Not every assault case is the same, so it is important to take into account the facts of your case before deciding upon a defense strategy.