Third-Degree Assault in Alabama
Assault charges can often produce many unwanted penalties that range from hefty fines to lengthy periods of incarceration. Third-degree assault in Alabama is considered a misdemeanor charge and is prosecuted accordingly. With that said, if you are facing an assault charge in Alabama, it is crucial that you contact an experienced assault lawyer immediately. A knowledgeable attorney will be able to build a strong case that can help effectively reduce or dismiss any penalties you may be facing.
Charging a Third-Degree Assault
Third-degree assault in Alabama is a Class A misdemeanor. It is classified as one of four theories of the charge, which include:
- When a person intends to cause physical injury to another person and does so
- When a person recklessly causes physical injury to another person
- When a person with negligence causes physical injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument
- When a person has an intent to prevent a peace officer from performing a lawful duty and causes injury to any person
The elements of a third-degree assault charge in Alabama are that a physical injury took place, and that a person with an intent or with a reckless or negligent conduct created a physical injury.
Penalties for Assault
Third-degree assault in Alabama is considered a Class A misdemeanor, which is the highest degree of misdemeanor. The range of penalties, if prosecuted in a municipal court, is a fine of up to $500 plus court costs and up to 180 days in the city jail. If a third-degree assault charge is prosecuted through the state court system, the range of punishment is up to a $6,000 fine and up to one year in the county jail.
Hearing of the Case
The law enforcement agency bringing the prosecution dictates where the case is heard. When it is prosecuted by a municipality, the case begins in the municipal court where every trial is heard only in front of a judge. However, there is an appeal right that would remove the case to the circuit court of the county where a person could request a jury to hear their case.
When a third-degree assault charge is brought by the state courts, the case will begin in the district court, which is similar to the municipal court in that any trial is only heard in front of the judge or a bench trial. An individual has the same appeal right from district court to circuit court where they could have a jury hear the case. No matter where the case begins in Alabama, a person can have a jury determine their guilt or innocence. Assault charges typically begin as bench trials but can evolve in the jury trials if need be.
Severity of the Charge
Someone facing a third-degree assault charge should be concerned even though it is just a misdemeanor offense. If a person is convicted, it creates a permanent record without the possibility of expungement, and could impact a person’s ability to possess a firearm. Further, if a person has any custody of children or plans on having any custody of children in the future, a conviction of third-degree assault could be a negative factor that a court may look at when awarding custody or visitation rights.