The state of Connecticut has three different Assault statutes, classified by degree. Assault in the First Degree is the most serious, and is a Class B felony. Assault in the Second Degree is a Class D felony and Assault in the Third Degree is an A misdemeanor.
Can I be charged with Assault in the First Degree?
Pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-59, you can be charged with Assault in the First Degree for any of the following conduct:
- With intent to cause serious physical injury to another person, you cause such injury to that person or another with a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument; or
- With intent to disfigure another person seriously and permanently, or to destroy, amputate or disable permanently a member or organ of his or her body, you cause such injury to that person or another; or
Under circumstances showing extreme indifference to human life you recklessly engage in conduct which creates a risk of death to another person, and thereby cause serious physical injury to another person; or
- With intent to cause serious physical injury to another person and while aided by two or more other persons actually present, you cause such injury to such person or another; or
- With intent to cause physical injury to another person, you cause such injury to that person or another by discharging a firearm.
Assault in the First Degree and Domestic Violence
In some cases, you can be charged with Assault in the First Degree for a domestic violence, or family violence, incident. Domestic or family violence crimes are acts that result in physical harm, bodily injury or assault, or a threat of violence that causes fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury or assault to a family or household member.
Connecticut defines family or household member to include any of the following persons regardless of their age:
- Spouse or former spouse
- Parents or their children
- Persons related by blood or marriage
- Persons other than those related by blood or marriage but who presently reside together or have resided together (e.g.; roommates)
- Persons who have a child in common regardless of whether they have ever been married or lived together
- Persons who are currently in or who have recently been in a dating relationship
What is the definition of Serious Physical Injury?
Serious physical injury is defined in Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-3 as physical injury that:
- creates a substantial risk of death; or
- causes serious disfigurement, serious impairment of health, or serious loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ
What is the definition of a Deadly Weapon?
A deadly weapon is also defined in Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-3 and specifies:
- any weapon, whether loaded or unloaded, that a shot can be fired from
- switchblade knife
- gravity knife
- billy or blackjack club
- bludgeon; and/or
- metal knuckles
What is the definition of a Dangerous Instrument?
A dangerous instrument is defined in Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-3 as any instrument, article, or substance that is used, attempted or threatened to be used that can cause death or serious physical injury.
Important: Almost anything can be considered a dangerous instrument depending on the circumstances under which it was used.
The following items have been considered a dangerous instrument for the purposes of the Assault in the First Degree statute:
- A vehicle
- A dog commanded to attack (unless that dog belongs to law enforcement and attacks a person as one if its duties at the command of a law enforcement officer.)
Note: The Supreme Court held in 2012 that a defendant’s fist was not a “dangerous instrument” as dangerous instrument refers to a tool or device separate from a person’s body.
Penalties for Assault in the First Degree
In some cases, depending on your conduct, you can face a statutory mandatory minimum sentence. This means that if you are convicted of certain conduct within the Assault in the First-Degree statute, you will be sentenced to a period of jail time that cannot be reduced by the Court.
If you are convicted of Assault in the First Degree you face the following penalties:
- Any person who with intent to cause serious physical injury to another person, causes such injury to that person or another by means of a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument faces a mandatory minimum of five years’ incarceration; and
- If the victim of that conduct under ten years of age is a witness, as defined in section §53a-146, and the actor knew the victim was a witness, you face a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years’ incarceration.
- A fine of up to $15,000 Probation
How an Attorney can help with your 1st degree assault case
An experienced attorney will make sure you understand the possible penalties and how to best protect your rights if you are charged with Assault in the First Degree. An experienced attorney will review the police report and the charges against you and will conduct his or her own investigation to build a defense or mitigate the charges. Your attorney will also help you preserve and gather information as part of your defense.
Your attorney can recommend counseling or treatment that will help you address any underlying issues that led to your arrest. Such treatment could include counseling or anger management courses. Successful completion of these programs may result in reduction of the charges against you, a sentence of probation instead of prison and sometimes even a dismissal of the charges.