What distinguishes a simple assault from an aggravated assault in Tennessee?

The biggest difference between simple assault and aggravated assault is that simple assault and domestic assault (when a domestic relationship is involved) are both treated as misdemeanors and are punishable by 11 months and 29 days, while aggravated assault is a felony that carries a sentence of up to 6 years.

Whether one is convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor will generally depend on whether a deadly weapon is involved and or the degree of the injury to the victim.

Assault is intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing:

  1. bodily injury to another
  2. the other person to reasonably fear imminent bodily injury
  3. physical contact with another, and a reasonable person would regard the contact as extremely offensive or provocative.

Aggravated Assault is basically the same thing, except that serious bodily injury is caused or a deadly weapon is displayed or used.

What is serious bodily injury?

Recently in State v. Howell, 2010 WL 2787696, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals concluded that the victim that suffered acute, sharp pain at the time of his injury, needed three physical therapy sessions, and had inability to perform normal employment for 10 days did not suffer serious bodily injury. In State v. Sims, 909 S.W.2d 46, 49 (Tenn.Crim.App.1995) the courts also concluded that a broken nose did not constitute serious bodily injury for especially aggravated robbery conviction.

However in State v. Demond Lamont Adkins, 2008 WL 5100851 (Tenn.Crim.App. Dec.4, 2008), the court found that evidence a victim suffered permanent impairment of knee and back was sufficient to support conviction for aggravated assault, and in State v. Stacy McKinley Taylor, 2004 WL 3021128 (Tenn.Crim.App. Dec.29, 2004) the court concluded that the evidence that the victim suffered extreme physical pain from collarbone injury that necessitated surgical repair and rehabilitative therapy was sufficient to support conviction for aggravated assault.

If you have been arrested on assault charges, domestic, simple, or aggravated in Middle Tennessee, it’s important to speak to a criminal defense attorney immediately. Contact the law firm of Raybin & Weissman for a free consultation today.

ABOUT David Raybin
David Raybin

David Raybin is a partner at Raybin & Weissman and he heads up the criminal defense section of the firm. With more than 35 years of experience, David has been named the Best Criminal Lawyer in Nashville by Best Lawyers in America, and listed among the Best Criminal Lawyers in the state by Tennessee Business magazine.

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