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Factors That Raise Assault to a Felony Level in Alabama

A criminal
Alabama classifies assault as either felony assault or misdemeanor assault. Here are some of the cases in which the authorities may charge you with felony assault, and the court may uphold the charges.

You Caused Serious Injuries

Serious injuries attract felony assault charges while minor injuries may attract misdemeanor assault charges. A serious injury is any injury that:
  • Creates a great risk of death
  • Causes serious disfigurement
  • Causes prolonged loss of organ function
Ultimately, the judge has the authority to determine what constitutes a serious injury.

You Intended to Cause Harm

The court will examine your intentions to determine whether your felony charges should hold. Your felony charges will stay if the court determines that you intended to cause the victim serious harm. However, the court may downgrade your charges if the injury was accidental.

Consider a case where someone claims that you shot them with a gun. You will face more serious charges if the court determines that you intended to shoot the victim than if investigations reveal your gun accidentally discharged.

Witness testimony, ballistics investigations, and the activities you were engaged in at the time of the accident may help reveal your intentions.

You Used a Deadly Weapon or Dangerous Instrument

According to Alabama laws, a deadly weapon is anything that someone has made, designed, or adapted to kill or inflict serious injury on another person. Examples include metal knuckles, guns, and swords.

A dangerous instrument, on the other hand, is any substance that can kill or cause serious injuries under the circumstances in which you used it. For example, water is not ordinarily a dangerous substance. However, you can kill or cause serious injury to a person if you hold their head underwater for some time. In such a case, the water becomes a dangerous instrument.

Therefore, your felony charges will hold if the court determines that you used a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument to harm the victim.

Your Actions Were Reckless 

Even unintentional conduct can trigger felony assault charges under the same circumstances. Any action that the court determines as reckless may result in felony assault. The felony charge is even more likely if the court determines that you showed extreme indifference to human life during your reckless actions.

For example, the court may consider your actions reckless if:
  • You drove through a school zone while intoxicated and hit a pedestrian.
  • You used fireworks without consideration to nearby explosives and caused an explosion.
  • You discharged your firearm in a residential neighborhood and shot someone.
In short, anything reckless or careless that causes serious physical injury to another person or other people can earn you felony assault charges. The behavior must rise above accident or ordinary negligence for it to constitute recklessness. Also, the behavior must be something that you knew or should have known would cause death or injury to other people.

Your Felony Activities Caused the Injury

You may also face felony assault charges if your criminal activities caused serious injury to another person. For example, robbery with violence is a felony, so you will face felony assault charges if you shot someone as you robbed them.

Another example is if you hit a pedestrian with your car as you fled from a crime scene where you had committed a felony.

Your DWI Caused the Injury

Lastly, you may also face felony assault charges if you cause a car accident that results in serious injuries to other people while you are intoxicated. You may face the charges whether you were under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of drugs and alcohol.

Luckily, you are innocent until a court finds you guilty, and the constitution entitles you to legal counsel. Contact JP Coleman Law, LLC, Attorneys at Law for legal counsel as soon as possible if the authorities charge you with assault. We will give you the best defense possible and ensure the authorities respect your rights.