Alabama Criminal Law Explained: Understanding Assault Under the Criminal Code

In the state of Alabama, the legal term “assault” is used somewhat broadly, and can indicate a number of different things. Loosely speaking, assault is when a person causes some type of physical harm to another party, or causes them to believe that they will be physically harmed. That is a pretty broad definition, however, which is why the Alabama criminal code breaks it down into three separate degrees. Knowing which type of assault you have been charged with, and why, is important for developing a strong legal defense.

First Degree Assault

First degree assault is a Class B felony, and can come with very serious penalties if you are found guilty. This type of assault includes things such as:

  • Causing serious injury to another party while using a deadly weapon.
  • Physically attacking another party with the intent to seriously and/or permanently disfigure them, amputate a limb or organ, or cause permanent disability.
  • Serious physical injury was caused to another party because of “extreme indifference” toward another human life. This could include reckless driving and other similar actions.
  • If you cause serious injury while committing or attempting to commit another serious crime such as arson, burglary, kidnapping, rape, or others.
  • Serious injury is caused to someone driving in a motor vehicle and you cause an accident because you were driving under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances.

Second Degree Assault

Second degree assault is a Class C felony, and is still very serious. People are typically charged with second degree criminal assault when they intentionally cause serious harm to another party. This can include attacks that use serious or even deadly weapons if the prosecutors don’t believe that you were attempting to kill or cause permanent injury to the other party. It is also automatically at least a second-degree assault if you attack a police officer who is trying to do their duty, or a teacher or other education employee due to the performance of their job. Intentionally poisoning or drugging another party without their consent is also considered second degree assault.

Third Degree Assault

In Alabama, third degree assault is a Class A misdemeanor. Don’t take this to mean it isn’t serious, however. This type of misdemeanor poses significant fines and other penalties. People are typically charged with a third-degree assault when they cause physical injury to another party either intentionally or due to recklessness. It is also considered third degree assault to attempt to prevent a peace officer from performing his or her lawful duty.

Effective Representation Against Assault Charges

If you have been charged with assault in any degree, you need to have an attorney with experience in these types of cases. Attorney John M. Totten has represented many clients in these cases, and will take an aggressive approach to defending your rights. Contact us if you have been charged, or you believe you may soon be charged, with any type of assault in Alabama to get the defense team you need.

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Written by John M. Totten

John M. Totten

John's office is in Athens, Alabama, where he has helped thousands of people in North Alabama with everything from family law issues, to catastrophic injury and death cases, to criminal defense.