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What You Need to Know if You Have Been Arrested for Assault in Connecticut

What You Need to Know if You Have Been Arrested for Assault in Connecticut

Handcuff person scorted by Police OfficerAssault is one of the most commonly charged crimes in Connecticut, and it is a crime that covers a wide range of behaviors. Because assault is considered a violent crime, it is an offense that is treated seriously by Connecticut courts. Assaults vary in degree and severity. The degree of an assault varies based upon whether or not a weapon was used, and the extent of the injuries. Having an experienced Connecticut criminal defense attorney defending you can often make a difference in the outcome of your case.

If you have any questions about your case, feel free to reach out to us for a free initial consultation, and we will be happy to answer any questions you have about defending assault cases. In this article, I am going to answer some of the most frequently answered questions that clients ask us about assault cases.

Frequently Asked Questions About Assault Cases
Q. Can I Go to Jail for Assault?

A. Assault cases vary in severity by degree. All assault charges carry a potential exposure to jail time as a possible sentence upon conviction. The lowest level of assault allegation is assault in the third degree in violation of C.G.S. §53a-61. This offense is commonly known as a simple assault. Although this crime is a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail, most first-time offenders never go to jail for third-degree assault. Most first time offenders can have their charges dismissed through the use of a diversionary program such as the accelerated rehabilitation program or the family violence education program.

More severe aggravated assaults that involve deadly weapons or the infliction of serious physical injures are more severe felony-level offenses. Aggravated assaults are much less common than simple assaults statistically. This allows the state to direct prosecutorial resources and attention to these more severe assaults. Depending on the specific circumstances, a conviction for aggravated assault can result in exposure to jail time. For example, assault in the first degree in violation of C.G.S. §53a-59, which is an intentional assault with a deadly weapon that results in a serious physical injury, carries a mandatory minimum five-year jail term and up to 20 years in jail.


Q. What is the Punishment for Assault in the Third Degree?

A. Assault in the third degree in violation of C.G.S. § 53s-61 is a class A misdemeanor for which, upon conviction, you could be sentenced to up to one year in jail and be ordered to pay a fine of up to $2,000.

Most first-time offenders can have their cases dismissed if they hire an experienced Connecticut criminal defense attorney. In practice, it is rare to see anyone go to jail for the crime of assault in the third degree unless they have a lengthy criminal record or unless there are other aggravating circumstances. Regardless, a misdemeanor conviction can have significant effects on your ability to secure employment in the future. For this reason, you should work with a qualified criminal defense lawyer to explore alternative resolutions to this offense to avoid receiving a criminal conviction.


Q. Do I Have to Disclose an Assault in the Third-Degree Arrest on Connecticut Job Applications?

A. Many people contact our office, seeking advice on how to fill out job application forms. How you answer the question depends on the specific circumstances of your individual situation. The three main issues to consider are 1. Was your assault in the third-degree case dismissed? 2. Does the question ask if you were convicted of a crime, or does it ask if you were ever arrested? 3. Is the job application within the State of Connecticut of somewhere else?

If your assault in the third-degree case was dismissed and the job you are applying for is in Connecticut, you are entitled as a matter of law to state that you have never been arrested by virtue of our erasure statute. If, on the other hand, you plead guilty to the charge, or if your case is still pending, then you would be required to answer that you have been arrested for assault.

If the job you are applying for is with the federal government or if you are applying for federal benefits, then you need to answer in the affirmative that you were arrested even if your case was dismissed. This is because the federal government is not bound to follow Connecticut's erasure statute, and the federal government will have an FBI arrest history of your case. The situation becomes more complicated for applicants for jobs in other states who were arrested in Connecticut and have had their cases dismissed. You should seek the services of a qualified criminal defense attorney in the state you are applying for the job to see how that state's laws would apply to your situation.


Q. What is the Difference Between a Simple Assault and an Aggravated Assault?

A. In Connecticut, our general statutes do not use the terms simple and aggravated assault, although those terms are widely utilized in criminal justice. Under Connecticut, law assaults are categorized by degree. The penalty varies depending on whether the injury sustained by the alleged victim is "serious" and whether or not a weapon was used. Assault in the third degree C.G.S. § 53s-61 is the least severe level of assault in Connecticut and is generally known as simple assault. Assault in the third degree applies where the accused intentionally causes an injury by assaulting the victim.

In Connecticut, aggravated assaults are the felony level assault charges of assault in the second degree, which require either the use of a dangerous weapon in an assault or the infliction of a serious physical injury. Aggravated assaults are treated much more seriously than simple assaults, and because they are felony-level offenses, you could face a lot more time in jail upon a conviction.


Q. Can I Get Arrested for Slapping Someone?

A. It is possible to be arrested for slapping someone. Whether you could be charged with an assault for slapping someone depends on how hard you slap them and whether your slap caused pain. Assault in the third degree in violation of C.G.S. § 53a-61 requires that the accused intentionally cause a "physical injury." Many people think of a bruise, black eye, or bloody lip when they hear the term physical injury. The legislature defines a "physical injury" as an injury that causes "impairment of physical condition or pain." C.G.S. § 53a-3(3). Accordingly, to be arrested for assault in the third-degree, there is no requirement to leave a mark on the victim. If you hit the victim and caused the victim pain, you could be arrested. In practice, most police departments will look to observe and possibly photograph a sign of some swelling, redness, or black and blue to verify that an assault occurred before they arrest someone for an assault.


Q. Can I Defend Myself by Assaulting Someone?

A. Self-defense is one of the most commonly used defenses to assault charges. In many situations, the victim attacked the accused first, and the accused was acting in self-defense. You are allowed to use reasonable force to defend yourself if you had a reasonable belief that you were in danger and that physical force was required to defend yourself. Self-defense is an affirmative defense, which means that the accused has to raise the defense and the burden to prove it at trial. In practice, the police often will arrest both parties in a barroom brawl, for example, and let the court sort out who attacked first. If you were acting in self-defense, you would consult with an experienced Connecticut assault defense attorney to review the best alternatives to obtain a favorable resolution for your case.


Q. What is a Domestic Violence Assault?

A. When an assault is treated as a domestic violence offense, it is because of the relationship between the victim and the accused. There are no separate statutes for a domestic violence assault in Connecticut. An assault is charged based by degree based upon the level of injury and whether or not a weapon was used or not. An assault is handled as a domestic violence case if the victim has a particular type of relationship with the accused. These categories include:

  • Past or current Dating relationship
  • Intimate partners
  • Spouses
  • Children in common
  • Related by blood
  • Residing in the same dwelling

Q. How is a Domestic Violence Assault Handled Differently?

A. If you are arrested for a domestic violence assault, you will be charged with the same statute and degree of assault as in a non-domestic violence case. Domestic violence cases all have a mandatory next day arraignment where criminal orders of protection will be issued in favor of the alleged victim. If you reside with the victim or have children in common, the entry of a residential stay away or full no-contact order would result in your having to vacate the family home for the duration of the case.

Domestic violence cases have specialized dockets, where domestic assaults receive attention. In addition to the state's attorney, the office of family relations and the victim's advocate make reports to the court at every hearing date. Generally, domestic violence assaults are handled more seriously and move slower because of all the attention in the media given to domestic violence. If you have been charged with a domestic violence assault, you should review your case with Connecticut domestic violence lawyer.


Q. Can the Victim Drop the Charges in a Domestic Violence Assault Case?

A. Many clients feel that a victim can press or drop charges in a domestic violence case. This is a mistaken assumption. First, the police are required to make an arrest in a domestic violence case if they find probable cause that a crime was committed regardless of the position of the victim. Secondly, the victim does not prosecute a criminal case in Connecticut. The state's attorney has the sole authority to decide to prosecute or drop criminal charges in Connecticut. While the victim's input is usually taken into consideration in determining how to dispose of a case, the state's attorney also considers society's interests and the victim's long-term safety in choosing which cases to prosecute. While it is beneficial for your case if the victim does not want to see you prosecuted, the victim's opinion is not dispositive.


Contact us Today!

If you been arrested for an assault case in Connecticut and you have additional questions, we invite you to arrange a free initial consultation with attorney Allan F. Friedman. We work on a flat-fee basis, and our rates are reasonable. We offer payment plans as needed. Call Attorney Friedman at (203) 357-5555. We are available 24/7. Or you can contact us online for a prompt response.

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