Simple assault is a misdemeanor, so any punishment you face will be less than if you had been convicted of felony assault. Nevertheless, the collateral consequences of any criminal conviction are sufficiently serious that you should have a lawyer review the charges against you and identify your best course of action. At Harris Law Firm, we have handled countless assault cases, so please reach out to us today.
A Fine and Time in Jail
If convicted, you can face up to six months in jail or a fine of up to $500, or both. The amount of time in jail and the sum of the fine will be determined by a judge.
However, if you were motivated by the victim’s gender, race, ethnicity, color, nationality, or religion when you committed the assault, then you can receive twice the jail sentence and double the fine.
If convicted, you might also be required to pay restitution to your victim. Restitution pays the victim for any medical care they needed because of the injuries you caused. Restitution might also replace any lost property that you damaged during the assault. Mississippi can require you to pay up to $5,000 in restitution.
Fighting a Simple Assault Charge
To be convicted, the prosecutor must show that you actually committed the offense. There are several ways you can commit simple assault:
- You intentionally or recklessly caused physical injury to another person. For example, you slapped or punched another person.
- You attempted to physically injure another person. For example, you could swing at another person but miss them. Nevertheless, this still qualifies as assault.
- You negligently caused bodily injury with a deadly weapon or another means of inflicting death or serious bodily harm. For example, you might have carelessly pointed your gun and struck someone in the face.
- You physically menaced another person so that they felt fear that they are about to be physically injured. For example, you shouted and rushed at another person while carrying a baseball bat. Even if you never swung the bat, you might still be convicted of assault.
To qualify as simple assault, the injury must be minor—a cut, scrape, or bruise will suffice. If the injuries are more serious, like a broken bone, then you would probably be charged with aggravated battery. Also, you cannot have assaulted certain members of protected occupations, such as a firefighter, police officer, judge, or legislator.
Depending on the facts, you might have a valid defense. For example, threatening another person so that they feel afraid of physical injuries is very vague. Often, harsh words are not enough, even if you shout loudly at a person. You might be able to defend your words as mere threats.
Furthermore, you might claim that your assault was committed in self-defense. If someone else was about to strike you, then you might have taken a swung at them to protect yourself from serious injury.
The Collateral Consequences of a Criminal Conviction
Although a misdemeanor is less serious than a felony, a misdemeanor will still hang over your head. As many people have found, misdemeanor convictions can cause problems down the road, such as:
- Make it harder for you to get a job. Many employers ask about criminal history. They also run a criminal background check, so lying about your criminal history does not do you any good. Depending on the employer, they might throw your application in the trash simply because of the misdemeanor conviction.
- Impair your ability to rent an apartment. Many landlords also run criminal background checks as part of the application process. If they see a conviction for simple assault, you might have a harder time convincing the landlord to rent to you.
- Impede your ability to obtain child custody. If you committed assault against a family member, then the judge can consider this fact when deciding whether to grant you legal or physical custody. You will need to show that you have rehabilitated yourself, by receiving treatment for drug or alcohol addiction or by completing a class on domestic violence.
- Frustrate your admission to college. Many colleges and universities ask about criminal convictions, and they might deny you admissions if you have an assault conviction.
Few people fully consider these collateral consequences, which can be just as painful as six months in jail and a $500 fine. Furthermore, this conviction will follow you around for the rest of your life. Rather than sit back and wait for the legal process to play itself out, you should hire a Mississippi criminal defense attorney to vigorously fight the assault charge.
How a Mississippi Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
Many times, simple assault charges are brought on nothing more than the alleged victim filing a police report. The state does not have adequate context for understanding what the dispute was about, which can reduce your own culpability for the assault.
At Harris Law Firm, we seek out every advantage we can find for our clients. To that end, we can:
- Try to get the charges dropped by brining exculpatory evidence to the attention of the prosecutor.
- Seek a suspended sentence that will allow you to avoid going to jail.
- Ask the judge to dismiss the case for lack of probable cause.
- Defend you in court so that you can win an acquittal.
Each case is different, and every client gets an individualized case review. Yet our goal remains the same—to obtain the best possible result that justice allows.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Criminal Defense Attorney in Mississippi
There is nothing “simple” about a simple assault allegation. Defendants face considerable time in jail, as well as disruptive collateral consequences, for nothing more serious than taking a swing at someone. If you or a loved one has been accused of simple assault in Mississippi, you need an aggressive criminal defense attorney to represent you.
Harris Law Firm has worked as tireless advocates on behalf of criminal defendants for decades. We are proud of our results and have obtained many favorable outcomes for our clients. Please call 877-714-4171 to schedule your free consultation or submit our contact form.