The criminal justice system is a labyrinth of laws and practices that must be expertly navigated from the moment you are charged with a violent crime. Because of their violent nature, these crimes come with harsher punishments that can keep you behind bars for decades.
A criminal defense attorney can help you through the process, including proving your innocence if that’s the case. Also, many cases are settled with a plea bargain; you need someone in your corner to get the best terms possible.
What follows is a snapshot of six violent crimes, what they are, and the type of punishment you can expect if charged.
What Makes a Crime Violent?
A crime becomes violent when it involves the use of force against another person, including slapping, pushing, or other forceful action. The offense can escalate if you use a deadly weapon, such as a blunt instrument, knife, or firearm.
Even the simple act of threatening to hurt someone that would intimidate or frighten a reasonable person is considered a violent crime. Since many violent crimes are felonies, they come with attendant punishments.
Assault is intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury to another person. Under the law, assault is called battery. It includes causing bodily injury or threatening bodily injury to anyone, from a stranger to a spouse.
Using a weapon increases the charge to aggravated assault or assault with a deadly weapon. Violent assault crimes include:
- Simple assault – threatening, pushing, hitting
- Aggravated assault – assault with a gun, knife, or hammer
- Aggravated sexual assault – sexual conduct without consent, including rape
- Assault of a family member – unwanted, threatening contact with a spouse, parent, or child
- Intoxication assault – vehicular accident after drinking and driving that causes bodily injury
Simple assault is considered a misdemeanor, which could result in some jail time and a relatively low fine. Aggravated, sexual, and intoxication assault are all felonies that could result in anywhere from two to 99 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
- Intoxication assault – a third-degree felony
- Sexual assault – a second-degree felony
- Assault or aggravated assault of a family member – a first-degree felony with the first offense, a third-degree felony with a second and subsequent offense.
People convicted of assault can be banned from carrying a firearm for a time or be the subject of a protective order.
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Manslaughter is also called criminal homicide and is defined as causing the death of another person through reckless behavior. You do not need to show criminal or malicious intent.
Manslaughter includes criminally negligent homicide, vehicular manslaughter, and intoxicated manslaughter. Criminally negligent homicide, a second-degree felony, occurs when someone is speeding, driving while distracted or intoxicated, failing to maintain their vehicle properly, drag racing, or engaging in games of chicken.
A manslaughter conviction can result in two to 20 years in prison and fines up to $10,000. However, intoxicated manslaughter might result only in probation, community service, a suspended license, mandatory drug or alcohol treatment, denial of the right to carry arms or a refusal of federal financial aid.
The right to vote may also be revoked until the sentence is complete.
Hit and Run
Hit and run is leaving the scene of a vehicular accident that caused personal injury, property damage, or death. It includes a driver striking another vehicle, pedestrian, animal, bicyclist, or property.
Hit and run is either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the circumstances and severity of the injury. A first offense that does not result in death or severe injuries and no history of previous felonies may get you probation or community service, or you could get a short jail or prison term.
If you have a previous felony on your record, hit and run escalates to higher fines and a longer prison sentence, especially if someone dies or has a severe injury.
Depending on the value of the property damaged, you could receive a Class C or Class B misdemeanor requiring jail time and a fine. Felony hit and run is good for up to five years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine.
Murder is intentionally or knowingly causing the death of another person. If you cause serious bodily injury from which a person dies, you may be charged with murder instead of assault.
- Second-degree murder is someone’s death resulting from an individual’s wrongful action, including death during the commission of a crime or due to recklessness.
- First-degree murder is causing someone’s death while committing a felony or fleeing from one.
- Capital murder is murder plus another factor that escalates the sentence to capital punishment, which is death.
Attempted murder is the willful intent to physically harm or kill another with willful disregard for human life or taking one or more steps to kill another with the specific intent to murder yet does not kill.
First-degree murder can result in five to 99 years in prison, while second-degree in the heat of passion can result in two to 20 years. Attempted murder is usually one degree lower than a murder charge but can still net you up to 20 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
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Domestic violence is the intentional, knowing, or reckless cause of another person’s bodily harm. It also includes threatening bodily injury on an imminent basis. It includes actions the offender knows the victim may find offensive, like making them feel insecure or violated.
Aggravated domestic violence involves a weapon.
You can be charged with domestic violence for any of the following actions:
- Physical violence
- Verbal abuse
- Forcible sexual relations
- Economic abuse
- Emotional abuse
You can get jail or prison time, fines or court fees, probation, community service, or restitution. You may also be barred from contacting the domestic member.
Kidnapping is the unlawful restraint or holding of a person against their will with a motive for taking that person somewhere. The abduction must be intentional and includes restricting a person’s freedom by hiding or concealing them or threatening to use deadly force against them.
- First-degree kidnapping, a first-degree felony, results in five to 99 years and up to $10,000 in fines
- Second-degree kidnapping, a second-degree felony, results in up to 20 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines
- Third-degree kidnapping, a third-degree felony, results in two to ten years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines
The kidnapping charge may be reduced if the person was a family member and there was no motive or threat of violence. The charges can be enhanced if the offender asks for ransom, restrains a person while committing a felony, harasses the victim, or restrains the victim in various ways to prevent their liberty.
Call a Criminal Defense Attorney if You’re Charged with a Violent Crime
An experienced criminal defense attorney like Brett Podolsky can evaluate the merits of your case and the potential outcome. Your attorney can help you receive the most appropriate sentence or fine and help you through the criminal justice system, including formulating a plea bargain.
Contact the Office of Brett Podolsky for help.