The Perils of Aggravated Assault on a Police Officer

by sammoser on November 29, 2012

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(US criminal law) When a police officer arrives at your door, chances are that you are already having a bad day.  Sometimes, tempers can flare, making an already upsetting situation even worse.  However, any attack against a police officer can have serious and long lasting consequences.  While assault is always a serious crime, aggravated assault against an officer can be a mistake that is impossible to erase from your record.

What Is Aggravated Assault?

While the exact definition varies from state to state, there are a few elements in common.  While physical attacks such as fighting are the most common form of assault, there are are other actions that will also cause you to be charged with this crime.  For example:

  • Spitting Or Throwing Any Bodily Fluid At An Officer
  • Using Physical Force To Pull Away From An Officer
  • Striking An Officer With Any Object (Throwing Items)
  • Using A Chemical Agent Against An Officer (Pepper Spray)
  • Biting An Officer
  • Taking Part In A Crime That Causes An Officer To Be Injured
  • Striking An Officer With A Vehicle

There are other actions that could lead to an assault charge, the key element is that you intend to harm an officer through your action.

When And Where Does Assault On An Officer Occur?

The most common locations for this kind of crime are where people gather in crowds and during domestic violence situations.  One thing that many people do not realize is that assaults against an officer while in custody – in a patrol car, while in jail or prison, or at a courthouse – is also considered aggravated assault.

Remember, an officer does not have to be in uniform.  If an assault occurs against a non-uniformed officer who a person knows to be an officer, the crime is still considered an assault against a peace officer.

What Are The Punishments For Aggravated Assault On An Officer?

In most states, when an assault occurs against a police officer, it is considered a “sentence enhancer.”  This means that the normal sentencing criteria can be doubled.  For example, a normal sentencing range for spitting on another person is generally up 18 months in jail.  However, spitting on an officer can turn that sentence into as long as 36 months in prison.

As with all crimes, the court will consider the circumstances under which the crime occurred when determining the appropriate punishment.  The judge will also consider a person’s history before imposing sentence.  However, courts look harshly upon anyone who assaults a public servant, and tough sentences are usually imposed.

The Lasting Impact Of Aggravated Assault

The cost of this crime can be much larger than most people are prepared to handle.  While jail or prison is a scary possibility, you may also face fines, restitution, probation, or community service in addition.  If you are charged with assault on a peace officer, consider consulting your criminal lawyer to determine which penalties may apply in your state.  Whenever possible, avoid getting yourself into a situation where this might occur.  Think first, use your head, and keep yourself out of trouble.

Sam Moser is a journalist who studied law before deciding that covering legal matters was more rewarding than defending them.  Most of his writing contributions have been online.

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