Many jurisdictions draw an important distinction between assault and battery. In Missouri, however, both types of offenses are punishable as assault crimes.
Statutory law categorizes charges with numerical degrees. A first-degree assault charge carries the most severe penalties. Defendants in these types of cases should be aware of key elements that bear on the seriousness of charges.
In order for a jury to find someone guilty of assault, prosecutors must prove a person’s mental state at the time that he or she causes harm to someone. If a prosecutor can demonstrate that a person intended to cause death or major bodily harm, the state may bring charges for first-degree assault. Reckless indifference to the possibility of someone’s death may be grounds for second-degree charges. The use of a deadly weapon may indicate the level of harm that a person intended to cause.
The extent of someone’s injuries could also be a determinative factor in the degree of charges against an alleged aggressor. Non-serious injuries may not necessarily rise to the level of first-degree assault. However, a person’s intent to cause more serious injuries than a victim sustained could lead to second-degree charges.
The degree of an offense will play a key role in the consequences that would follow a conviction. However, it is imperative that defendants take any type of charges for assault very seriously. A conviction for a violent offense can create a lasting impact on a person’s life and impact their livelihoods or personal relationships significantly.