First-Degree Assault Charges in Alabama
A charge of first-degree assault in Alabama can often carry hefty penalties depending on the nature of the charge. These charges are often brought forward because of violent or dangerous behavior, and are penalized accordingly. The consequences associated with an Alabama first-degree assault charge are often felt long after the individual leaves the courtroom. Because of this, it is essential that any individual involved in such a case contact an Alabama assault attorney immediately. A seasoned lawyer will be able to effectively challenge the prosecution’s case, and fight for a reduction or dismissal of your charges.
Elements of a First-Degree Assault Charge
In Alabama, the key factor in making an assault first-degree is the level of injury the victim sustains. The injury must be a serious physical injury, defined by a state statute as an injury that creates a substantial risk of death, or which causes serious or protracted disfigurement, protracted impairment of health, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ. These types of injuries include losing limbs, loss of an eye, being permanently disabled, or having serious surgeries after the injury.
There are five separate theories the state can use to create an assault charge. These theories include:
- When someone with intent causes serious physical injury to another person through means of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument.
- When someone with an intent to disfigure another person does so by destroying or amputating an organ or a member of their body.
- Where someone manifesting an extreme indifference to the value of human life engages in reckless conduct, creating a grave risk of death to another person and in the course of that, causing serious physical injury to another person.
- When someone, in the furtherance of the commission of a crime or a felony, causes grave serious physical injury to another person.
- When someone is driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance and causes serious physical injury to another person with their vehicle or vessel.
Assault Involving a Deadly Weapon
First-degree assault in Alabama can be charged by the use of a deadly weapon. However, there are four other ways that first-degree assault could be charged without the use of a deadly weapon. This varies on a case to case basis. Quite often, the use of a deadly weapon is the basis for a felony assault charge in the state of Alabama.
There are many examples of assault involving the use of a weapon. An individual can be charged with first-degree assault with a deadly weapon when they strike another individual with some type of bat, stick, knife, sword, or other weapon that can inflict serious harm. Further, when someone shoots a gun at another person and causes serious physical injury, it can be charged as first-degree assault in Alabama.
Assault Without a Weapon
The most common scenario in Alabama where there is a first-degree assault charge is when someone is driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance. In the course of driving under the influence, the person may cause serious physical injury to another person. Many times, these are traffic accidents with another vehicle. However, there can be passengers injured in the vehicle of the person who is driving impaired.
Importance of an Attorney
It is essential to retain an experienced criminal defense lawyer when facing a first-degree assault charge in Alabama. This charge most likely means that a minimum mandatory prison sentence is on the table. However, an attorney can contest the charge, challenge the state’s evidence, and hold the state to their burden of proof. Also, a lawyer can negotiate a plea or mitigate the offense classification down to a lesser penalty range, and argue for mitigation and departure from mandatory sentencing guidelines. The lawyer can use strategies in negotiating with the victim’s attorney, should they have filed a civil claim to try to get cooperation in a mitigated plea.