Are you the victim of an assault? Maybe you know someone who is, or you’ve witnessed one take place. Either way, an assault is a serious offense in the eyes of the law, and pressing charges against an individual or group of people is an effective way to begin the process of finding justice, closure, and peace. Whether you’ve seen an assault happen or experienced it firsthand, it is extremely important to know what your options are. Here’s a look at how to press charges after an assault:
Pressing Charges for Assault
Whether you are the victim of an assault, or you’ve found yourself being the aggressor (or assailant) in a physical altercation, knowing the terms and consequences is important so you can properly protect yourself. Let’s dive into the types of assault charges you can file.
Types of Assault Charges
When it comes to pressing charges, many people will use the term assault to describe what happens when an aggressor harms a victim. However, there are many different terms that are used when describing these crimes. A lot of times you will hear the terms “assault” and “battery” used interchangeably. And while they naturally overlap, there is a difference between the two when it comes to specific charges that can be filed against a person.
By definition, an assault occurs when one person commits actions that put another person in a situation where he or she can reasonably fear that he or she will be physically harmed. Battery, on the other hand, is when the aggressor physically harms someone. Both assault and battery can be classified as civil or criminal.
1. Simple Assault
This is an attempted battery or threat. The aggressor must have the intention of hurting the victim, regardless of whether they do or not. To be considered simple assault, it must be reasonable for the victim to believe that the aggressor was going to harm them. There also must be some sort of harm involved, whether it is physical harm or the fear of physical harm. The consequence of a simple assault usually results in a misdemeanor.
2. Aggravated Assault
Aggravated assault, on the other hand, is more involved than simple assault. These crimes typically involve the use of a weapon and result in serious injury to the victim. When being tried in court, the crime is normally classified as a felony depending on the harm.
Battery is when an aggressor follows through with physically harming someone.
Both assault and battery are criminal acts and are punishable by court. The most common punishments for assault and battery are jail time and fines. Keep in mind, some jurisdictions join the terms assault and battery to describe cases that involve elements of both crimes.
How to Press Charges for an Assault
When you have made the decision to file charges after an assault, you need to visit your local police department. For whatever reason, if you are not physically able to visit the police station, you may call them over the phone.
All you have to do to kickstart the process is express that you want to press charges. From there, the authorities will request follow-up information from you in order to accurately fill out the assault report. Generally, this information includes:
- The victim’s name
- The assailant’s name
- Both their addresses (if known)
- Where the assault occurred
- The date and time that it occurred
- How it occurred
In many assault situations, the victim does not know their assailant; in this case, the authorities will simply ask for descriptions of them. Throughout this initial process, the person filing charges may need to release any information about potential witnesses, as well as details in writing.
And while your memory of the incident is pivotal, don’t let a lack of memory deter you from turning someone in for the crime. After filing the charges, remember to keep a record of the assault report, as well as maintain the integrity of any evidence you have in your possession that could help the authorities.
Hiring an Assault and Battery Lawyer
If you are looking to press charges for an assault, or if you already have pressed charges, it is advisable to find legal representation. Victims who have been harmed by an aggressor in an assault should hire a personal injury lawyer. The attorney will be able to help you pursue a lawsuit against the aggressor for the physical and mental damages they have caused.
If you are the one being accused of assault or battery, look for a criminal defense lawyer to represent you. However, if the victim is suing you for their injuries, hiring a personal injury defense lawyer will be your best bet.
After police officers obtain the details that they need from the victims, they will then issue the victim’s copies of the reports that they filed. After that, the complaints will be taken to the prosecutor’s office where the prosecutor will look over the report to determine whether or not he or she believes there is enough information contained within the report to prosecute the assailant.
If the prosecution believes that there is enough evidence to prosecute, then an arrest warrant will be issued for the assailant’s arrest from the judge. Additionally, police officers will investigate the crime further to obtain any additional evidence.
If the aggressor is prosecuted for the crime, the victim may be able to receive some financial compensation from the government, as well. This is known as the Crime Victim Compensation, which is intended to help with expenses accrued from medical bills, therapy, lost income, and funerals.
Orders of Protection After Pressing Assault Charges
When an assault happens, some people are afraid to file charges on their assailants for fear of retribution. However, when filing assault charges, people may also seek to obtain orders of protection from the court as well, which are, essentially, restraining orders that if violated will result in the arrest of the assailant. Such orders require that the assailant not come within so many feet of the victim or any location where the victim is believed to be.
Pressing assault charges might sometimes be necessary for some people to put incidents behind them and receive a sense of closure. However, they should ensure that they follow the appropriate procedures to do so to ensure their safety and the successful convictions of their assailants.
How Long Do You Have to Press Charges for Assault?
The amount of time you have to press charges for an assault depends on your state’s statute of limitations, which typically ranges from a couple of years to six years. However, it is always advisable to report the crime regardless of how long it has been. The sooner you press charges for the assault, the better the investigation will be.
Keep in mind, in instances where people are assaulted but police officers were not called on the scene or did not arrive on the scene in time, people can still press charges against their assailants by following the appropriate channels. To learn more, here’s a look at how long do you have to file a police report.
More Questions About Assault Charges?
There are many variables at play when it comes to the criminal justice system. If you or someone you care about needs legal assistance concerning an assault, get a free case review from a local attorney.