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Is Punching Someone Assault?

Assault, such as punching someone, is one of those crimes that can be misunderstood by the public based on TikTok posts, crime shows like Law and Order, and general conversation around news stories. But make no mistake, Tennessee Law knows what it means and if you have been charged with assault of any kind, you will want a good assault defense lawyer, like leading Murfreesboro attorney David Clarke.

punching and threatening someone

Recently a Shelby County mom was arrested for punching her son in the face. Both the mother and son had their side of the story. According to the affidavit, Kierrie Sutton’s son said she grabbed him by his hair and started punching him and that she hit him so hard, his nose started bleeding. He said she was angry because he got in trouble at school. Ms. Sutton claimed he was backtalking her and refused to give up his cell phone. She claimed she only started punching him when he threatened to get a knife. 

If you know the definition of what assault is in Tennessee, you might believe that Ms. Sutton assaulted her son and you would be right under Tennessee laws defining assault as “the actual causing of bodily injury to another intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly” such as punching someone. Further perhaps you might conclude when her son threatened to get the knife, he may have committed assault as well because assault also includes knowingly causing a person to “reasonably fear imminent bodily injury.”  

In this case, neither the son or mother were charged with the crime of assault, likely not because it didn’t occur but because law enforcement or prosecutors felt the situation warranted lesser charges or only charged what they believed they could get a conviction on. The son was not charged at all, and the mother was charged with child abuse. However the answer to “is punching someone assault?” the answer is yes.

Assault has Levels of Severity

There are basically 3 levels of severity in Tennessee – Assault, Assault with a Deadly Weapon, and Aggravated Assault.

Assault – Assault is when a person 1) threatens another without resorting to full violence (the threat of causing reasonable fear of bodily injury), or 2) the actual causing of bodily injury to another intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly, or 3) intentionally or knowingly causing physical contact with another and a reasonable person would regard that contact as extremely offensive or provocative. Since assault charges can refer to situations where a person threatens another, without actually resorting to full violence, the threat must be substantial enough to where the victim believed their life was truly in danger.

This can include the use of threatening words, putting hands on a person in an aggressive manner, threatening to hit someone such as taking a fighting stance and preparing to attack, spitting at someone, or pushing, smacking, or punching someone. Again to answer our original question, punching someone is assault in Tennessee.

Assault with a Deadly Weapon – Assault with a deadly weapon also involves threats of violence or actual bodily injury. Only this time, rather than empty hands, the person committing assault did so with a weapon designed to kill or cause bodily harm in their possession. The person with the deadly weapon may not even have the weapon in their hands to commit assault with a deadly weapon. For example, by showing the victim a gun in a holster, a person can still be charged with assault with a deadly weapon without ever drawing the weapon out.

Aggravated Assault – Aggravated assault in Tennessee tends to involve some actual follow-through on the verbal threat. It is assault intensified by the situation. For example, if caught during a robbery, and you hit the homeowner in order to escape, that can be aggravated assault as it involved an assault while committing another crime. Another example could be pulling a gun out during an altercation, then discharging the weapon. Even if the shot was meant as a warning, it could still qualify as aggravated assault.

Defense Against Assault Charges

As you can see, there is a wide variation in assault charges. Convictions for these crimes of assault can come with some very serious punishment such as substantial jail time. For example a conviction of aggravated assault, a Class C felony, is punishable by 3 to 15 years in prison.

A conviction of any level, even as a misdemeanor, results in a permanent criminal record that may haunt you for the rest of your life.

What may appear as a minor fracas to you can be seen very differently in the eyes of the victim or the public and more importantly, your actions could seem very serious in the judgment of the prosecutor, judge, and jury.

Call Experienced Murfreesboro Attorney David Clarke for Your Defense

If you threatened to punch someone or actually punched someone, you could be charged with assault. As an experienced trial lawyer, Attorney Clarke will use his talent and skills to defend you rigorously against assault charges.

If you or a loved one has been charged with any variation of assault, this is serious. You need a top assault defense lawyer like David Clarke.  Let us work with you to develop a defensive strategy for your situation to ensure the best possible outcome for your specific case. Do not hesitate to obtain our legal counsel if you are in trouble. Contact the Clarke Law Firm today at 615-796-6299 or online.