Our office handles a lot of assault-related cases, both felony and misdemeanor. Here are a few answers to common assault questions:
What are the differences between the different levels of assault?
Assault crimes in Oregon are broken down into four degrees. Assault in the fourth degree, commonly known as assault 4, is the least-serious. It involves causing some sort of physical injury to another person. The injury can be slight, as long as it impairs the person’s physical condition or causes substantial pain. Assault 4 is almost always a misdemeanor. Typically, an assault 4 conviction will mean a short jail sentence, probation, fines, and probably an anger management class.
Assault 3 is a more-serious version of assault 4. It could be that serious physical injury is now alleged, that the alleged victim was under 10 years old, that it was a multi-person assault, or that a weapon was involved – including a car! If someone is injured during a DUI situation, the driver is often charged with assault 3. Assault 3 is a felony – people convicted of assault 3 are typically sentenced to several weeks in jail, probation, fines, and anger management classes.
Assault 2 is also a felony, and is usually charged with the defendant allegedly injured someone intentionally, rather than recklessly. Assault 2 is a measure 11 crime, which means people convicted of assault 2 usually get sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 70 months in prison.
Assault 1, or first degree assault, is reserved for situations where someone is accused of intentionally causing serious physical injury to another with a deadly or dangerous weapon, or where the alleged victim is a small child, or where the assault was the result of a DUI, and the driver has three or more previous DUI convictions. An assault 1 conviction is also a measure 11 crime that requires a sentence of at least 90 months in prison.
How can Assault 4 ever be a felony?
Although assault 4 is typically a misdemeanor, it can be a felony in certain circumstances. It could be that the alleged victim was pregnant, or that the defendant had previously been convicted of assaulting the same victim, or that the assault took place in front of the alleged victim’s child. In this case, the punishment would likely be the same as that for assault 3.
How can I defend myself from an assault charge?
You do not want an assault conviction on your record. Along with the punishments described above, an assault record can make it difficult to get a new job, or to find a new apartment to rent. The best thing you can do if you are accused of assault is to hire an experienced attorney. Your attorney can help you evaluate whether you can claim self-defense, look into whether the witnesses and alleged victim are believable, and use medical evidence against the prosecution. We have used all of these methods, and more, in defending previous clients. Our legal help gives our clients their best chance at hearing those two great words – “Not guilty.” Call Portland Defender today to start your defense!
(photo by Tony the Misfit)