Assaults of any sort are criminal matters, but some assaults are worse than others. When prosecutors handle an assault case, they have to make the determination of whether the charge is assault or aggravated assault. There are several reasons why an assault might be upgraded to an aggravated assault.

The victim’s identity is one factor that might lead to an aggravated assault charge. This could be the case if the attack was based on a person’s disability, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or race. It is also possible that you would face aggravated assault charges if you attack a teacher, police officer, fire fighter, or someone in another protected profession.

The use of a weapon can increase criminal charges from assault to aggravated assault. The weapon doesn’t necessarily have to be a gun, but an assault that includes a gun is likely to be considered aggravated assault. The weapon could be a knife or anything else that could kill someone. It is important to note that the weapon doesn’t actually have to cause harm. Instead, it must only be present and there must be an implication that it could be used to inflict harm.

The degree of injury and your intent can also increase charges from assault to aggravated assault. Serious injuries, such as maiming or disfigurement, can lead to aggravated assault charges. If you acted in a reckless manner or with a disregard for human life, you can face an aggravated assault charge.

Just like any other violent crime charge, you need a firm defense if you are facing an aggravated assault charge. You can’t sit back and think the case will sort itself out. Instead, be proactive and get started right away.

Source: FindLaw, “Aggravated Assault,” accessed June 15, 2016