A physical assault charge can change your life. Whether at the felony or misdemeanor level, a conviction can lock you out of employment opportunities, housing-even higher education. Some assault charges can also land you on the state’s sex offender registry, and you stand a good chance of serving time if convicted.
If you’ve been charged under Ohio’s assault statutes, you need prompt representation by a Cleveland violent crimes defense attorney. At Patituce & Associates, we provide our clients with top-quality legal advice and represent their interests from the time of the arrest forward. Let us help you understand your legal options in the face of an assault charge.
Schedule your first consultation with our Cleveland assault crimes lawyers by calling 440-471-7784 now!
What Qualifies as Assault in Ohio?
Ohio has four separate laws specifically concerning assault: negligent assault, assault, aggravated assault, and felonious assault. The offenses involve causing or attempting to cause physical harm or serious physical harm to another. What separates the crimes is the circumstances in which the injury was inflicted (or attempted to be inflicted).
To further articulate Ohio’s definition of assault, let us first define the result or intended result of such conduct.
- Physical harm: Under O.R.C. § 2901.01, physical harm includes injury, illness, or physiological impairment.
- Serious physical harm: This type of injury includes the following:
- A mental condition requiring hospitalization or psychiatric care;
- Physical injury causing a substantial risk of death;
- Physical injury resulting in permanent, temporary, or substantial incapacity;
- Physical injury resulting in permanent or serious disfigurement; or
- Physical injury leading to acute pain that causes substantial suffering or any lasting or intractable pain.
Culpable Mental State
Next, let us examine the different degrees of culpability of assault. Simple assault, aggravated assault, and felonious assault involve engaging in the conduct knowingly, with some instances of simple assault involving acting recklessly. Negligent assault is engaged in negligently.
Ohio law defines these culpable mental states as follows.
- Knowingly: To act knowingly means to be aware that engaging in certain conduct may cause a specific result.
- Recklessly: To act recklessly means a person recognizes that their conduct likely poses a substantial or unjustifiable risk to others but engages in it regardless of the possible results.
- Negligently: To act negligently means having a “substantial lapse from due care” and not recognizing or avoiding the risks that could be caused by engaging in certain conduct.
Assault, Battery & Aggravated Assault: How They’re Different
Generally, the difference between simple assault and battery is whether the conduct results in physical contact. To clarify, simple assault typically involves attempting to cause harm to another, for example, pulling your fist back to punch someone.
Battery usually involves making actual contact with someone, for instance, propelling your fist forward and landing the punch.
Ohio does not have separate assault and battery laws. Both offenses are contained in the state’s assault laws. For example, assault under O.R.C. § 2903.13 involves knowingly causing or attempting to cause physical harm.
Ohio does, however, have one law concerning simple assault and another concerning aggravated assault. The difference between the two offenses is the type of conduct involved.
Simple assault involves:
- Causing or attempting to cause physical injury to another, or
- Negligently causing serious physical injury to another.
Aggravated assault is a more severe offense that involves acting in the heat of passion and knowingly:
- Causing serious physical harm to another, or
- Causing or attempting to cause physical harm to another by using a deadly weapon or dangerous ordinance.
To continue with the comparison of Ohio’s assault laws, negligent assault involves:
- Negligently causing physical harm through the use of a deadly weapon or dangerous ordnance.
Is Assault a Felony in Ohio?
Felonious assault is considered a more serious offense than simple assault, meaning that the alleged offender did something to increase the severity of the crime.
Under O.R.C. 2903.11, factors that elevate an offense to felonious assault include the following.
Knowingly Causing Serious Physical Harm to Another
It is important to note that causing serious physical harm to someone else is also an element of assault. But in that case, the alleged offender acted recklessly, whereas, in this instance, they acted knowingly. Thus, it’s the criminal state of mind that separates the two offenses and makes felonious assault more serious.
Knowingly Using a Deadly Weapon or Dangerous Ordinance
Knowingly using a deadly weapon or dangerous ordinance to cause or attempt to cause physical harm to someone else elevates an assault charge to a felony. A deadly weapon is an instrument that can be used as a weapon that can cause death, and dangerous ordinances include devices such as sawed-off firearms, explosives, or rocket launchers.
Exposing Someone to AIDS
Knowing that they have AIDS (or a virus that can cause the disease), the person engages in sexual conduct with someone without letting them know of their condition, someone mentally incapable of understanding that the person has AIDS, or someone under 18 years of age. For the purposes of a felonious assault offense, sexual conduct involves vaginal or anal penetration or oral copulation.
Minimum Sentences for Assault in Ohio
The minimum sentences for assault in Ohio are serious, and you need a skilled Cleveland assault crimes lawyer defending you.
According to Ohio law O.R.C. 2903.13, knowingly or recklessly causing or attempting to cause physical harm to another or another’s unborn is considered simple assault. Simple assault is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by a 6-month jail sentence and fines up to $1,000.
Under O.R.C. 2903.12, aggravated assault is to knowingly cause serious physical harm to another or to another’s unborn baby by means of a deadly weapon or dangerous ordnance. Aggravated assault is a fourth-degree felony in Ohio and can lead to prison sentences between 18 months and 6 years with a $5,000 fine.
Negligent assault in Ohio is defined under O.R.C. 2903.14. It is knowingly causing physical harm to another or another person’s unborn baby by negligent use of a deadly weapon or dangerous ordnance. Negligent assault is charged as a third-degree misdemeanor with a potential sentence of up to 60 days in jail and a fine of $500.
Felonious assault under O.R.C. 2903.11 is generally a second-degree felony. The punishments upon conviction include up to 12 years in prison and/or up to $15,000 in fines. If the victim is a law enforcement official, however, the crime becomes a first-degree felony. In this case, the penalties include a maximum of 16.5 years in prison and/or a fine not to exceed $20,000.
If the deadly weapon used to commit the crime was a vehicle, in addition to incarceration and fines, the alleged offender faces a class two driver’s license suspension. If the court imposes this sanction, the defendant can lose their driving privileges for anywhere from three years to life.
According to Ohio law O.R.C. 2903.08, vehicular assault is causing serious injury to another person by operating a vehicle recklessly (may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs), or injuring someone in a construction zone by driving recklessly or speeding. Vehicular assault is a fourth-degree felony. Potential penalties include 18 months in prison and loss of your license for 5 years.
Aggravated Vehicular Assault
Aggravated vehicular assault according to O.R.C. 2903.09 is defined as causing serious physical harm to another person by operating a vehicle recklessly (may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol), or injuring someone in a construction zone by driving recklessly or speeding.
In Ohio, aggravated vehicular assault is a third-degree felony punishable by five years in prison and the loss of your driver’s license for ten years.
Vehicular manslaughter in Ohio under O.R.C. 2903.06 is causing the death of another driver by violating a minor traffic ordinance. The conviction penalties for vehicular manslaughter carry a 90-day sentence, license suspension for up to three years, and a $750 fine. This is a second-degree misdemeanor assault charge.
According to O.R.C. 2903.22, menacing is defined as knowingly causing a person to feel the threat of physical harm, damage to property, or family, and causing mental distress. Menacing is a fourth-degree misdemeanor assault charge carrying a potential sentence of 70 days in jail and a $250 fine.
Aggravated menacing under Ohio law, O.R.C. 2903.21, is knowingly causing another to believe harm will come to them through serious physical harm to the person or property, unborn, or a member of the person’s immediate family. Aggravated menacing is a first-degree misdemeanor that can lead to a 6-month jail sentence and a $1,000 fine.
Aggravated Menacing by Stalking
In Ohio, menacing by stalking is defined under O.R.C. 2903.211 as knowingly engaging in a pattern of conduct that causes the victim to believe they will experience physical harm. Menacing by stalking is a first-degree misdemeanor crime punishable by 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Potential Defenses to Assault Charges in Ohio
Because every case is different, the defenses that can be raised against Ohio assault charges will vary.
However, below are a few possible ways to challenge the accusation:
- Self-defense: Protecting oneself against an imminent attack.
- Defense of others: Defending another person in danger of being injured by someone else.
- Defense of property: Using force against a person who has unlawfully entered a person’s home or vehicle.
Note that under O.R.C. § 2901.09, there is no duty to retreat. Also referred to as a “stand your ground” law, this means a person does not have to attempt to leave a threatening situation before using defensive force against their attacker.
Don’t Wait to Contact Our Cleveland Assault Crimes Lawyers
When you’ve been charged with assault, put our team of former prosecutors to work for you. When you need a tough defense that’s with you every step of the way, the Cleveland assault lawyers at Patituce & Associates deliver!