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C.G.S. § 53a-61 – Assault in the Third Degree

Assault in the Third Degree Assault in the third degree is one of the most commonly charged crimes in Connecticut. Although this offense is widely known as "simple assault" in other states, Connecticut does not have a crime of "simple assault." In Connecticut, all assaults vary depending on the degree. Although assault in the third degree is the lowest level assault case, it is still treated very seriously by state's attorneys and the courts.

You can be charged with this offense no matter how slight the injury to the victim is. Based on the relationship between the defendant and the alleged victim, this crime can be treated as a domestic violence offense. Assault in the third degree is a Class A misdemeanor, and you can face up to a year in jail for a conviction of this crime. Also, a conviction can have serious long-term effects upon your employment prospects for years to come.

Connecticut recognizes three different situations in which an accused can be charged with assault in the third degree. The statute provides for varying mental intent requirements depending on the level of harm suffered by the victim and whether or not a dangerous instrument or weapon was used in the alleged assault.

Elements of the Crime Which Must be Proven by The State

To be found guilty of assault in the third degree in violation of C.G.S. § 53a-61, the prosecution must prove these elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt:

Situation 1 – Any injury – Intentional action

  1. The accused acted intentionally to cause a physical injury;
  2. The accused caused an injury to the victim

Situation 2 – Serious injury - Reckless action

  1. The accused acted recklessly;
  2. The accused caused a serious physical injury to the victim.

Situation 3 – Any injury – Criminal negligence – Use of a dangerous or deadly weapon

  1. The accused acted with criminal negligence;
  2. The accused caused an injury to the victim;
  3. The injury, however slight, was caused by a deadly or dangerous weapon or electronic defense weapon.
Examples

A man is angry and intentionally slaps a woman he just met in a bar in the face who he feels insulted him. He leaves a red mark on the side of her cheek. He could be charged with assault in the third degree in violation of C.G.S. § 53a-61.

Same facts as above only the man and woman are involved in a dating relationship. The man would still be charged with assault in the third degree, but it would be treated as a domestic violence crime.

Same facts as above only the woman is four months pregnant. The man could be charged with assault on a pregnant person in the third degree in violation of C.G.S. § 53a-61a and face a mandatory minimum one year in jail.

A man was skateboarding recklessly on a crowded sidewalk. He did not intend to harm anyone else but lost control and runs someone over, causing the victim to suffer a hip fracture. The man could be charged with assault in the third degree in violation of C.G.S. § 53a-61 because he acted recklessly and caused a serious physical injury to the victim. (If the man had acted intentionally, this action would have been an assault in the second degree in violation of C.G.S. § 53a-60).

Related Offenses Defenses to Assault in the Third Degree

Assault in the third degree in violation of C.G.S. § 53a-61 is an offense that is often easy for the police to charge but more difficult for the state's attorney to prove.

In the most common form of simple assault, the state has the burden to prove that the accused acted with the intent to cause an injury. This is often an onerous burden to achieve.

Everyone has the right to protect themselves, so self-defense is a valid defense to assault in the third-degree allegations. While the use of force must be proportionate and sufficient for protection, generally, anytime someone is attacking, you can use your hands to fight them off. You have a duty to avail yourself of all reasonable means to avoid a physical confrontation. However, once someone has started to attack, you are usually within your rights to hit them back to defend yourself.

In many cases in a rush to build a case the police tend to forget about our constitutional rights. Where admissions and confessions have been wrongfully obtained in violation of your Miranda rights, it is sometimes possible to suppress the evidence that has been illegally obtained.

There are many diversionary programs available for first-time offenders who have no previous criminal record. These kinds of diversionary programs would lead to a dismissal of all charges against you and the erasure of your arrest record. For most assault in the third-degree cases, the accelerated rehabilitation program would be the appropriate diversionary program. However, if the offense is charged as a domestic violence crime, the family violence education program would be the proper program to use.

Penalties

Assault in the third degree C.G.S. § 53a-61 is a Class A misdemeanor, for which you could be sentenced up to one year in jail and ordered to pay a fine of up to $1,000.

In those situations where a dangerous or deadly weapon has been used in a negligent manner to cause an injury, the penalty is a mandatory minimum one year in jail. C.G.S. § 53a-61(b).

Criminal Defense for Assault in the Third Degree

If you or a loved one has been arrested for assault in the third degree in violation of C.G.S. § 53a-61, it is important that you immediately speak with a tenacious and experienced Connecticut criminal defense lawyer. Stamford criminal lawyer Allan F. Friedman has extensive experience and has been very successful in defending allegations of assault. Being arrested for a crime like assault can be a frightening and terrifying experience. You need a staunch and determined advocate to assert your rights and fight to obtain the most favorable result possible.

For more information about defending assault in the third-degree charges, and to arrange a free consultation to review your case, contact Stamford criminal defense lawyer Allan F. Friedman at The Law Offices of Allan F. Friedman located at 24 Hoyt St #A, Stamford, CT 06905. Mr. Friedman can be reached 24/7 at (203) 357-5555, or you can contact us online for a prompt response.

Our office is conveniently located one block from the Stamford Courthouse.

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