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How prosecutors decide whether to charge you with simple or aggravated assault

It’s never ideal to be facing criminal charges. It can help for you to know more about the offenses prosecutors charged you with, though. Understanding what distinguishes simple from aggravated assault charges may shape the defense strategies you pursue in your case.

Why a defendant’s alleged criminal acts matter

Prosecutors will delve deeper into the circumstances surrounding the commission of the crime before determining what charges to file. 

One of the first factors prosecutors will consider when determining what type of assault to prosecute you for is whether it appears that you intended to inflict harm upon your victim. Prosecutors will also want to know if you, as the suspect, allegedly used weapons in the commission of the crime. 

Why the severity of injuries matters

Prosecutors will want to know more about the extent of the victim’s injuries before deciding what charges to file against a defendant. Some jurisdictions allow prosecutors to file attempted homicide in more severe cases where a defendant allegedly inflicted severe injuries upon their victim. It’s also not uncommon for prosecutors to file additional, related charges such as a battery or rare ones depending on the circumstances in any given case. 

Why the identity of the victim matters

Prosecutors may also want to know more about whether an alleged suspect appeared to single out their victim(s) due to their belonging to a specific religious, disability, nationality, racial or ethnic group. They’ll also inquire if a defendant targeted their victim because of their gender, sexual orientation or age. 

If it appears that the victim was carrying out their work duties as a firefighter, paramedic or police officer at the time of their assault, then this too may impact the charges that a prosecutor files.

Most jurisdictions classify simple assault as a misdemeanor and aggravated assault as a felony. One offense may be punishable by up to a year in jail, whereas you may be facing several years in prison if a judge or jury convicts you of aggravated assault. A criminal defense attorney can advise you of the penalties associated with your alleged crime and help you devise defense strategies that you can pursue in your Ohio case.