Many people think of assault as committing an act of physical violence against another person. But assault also means threatening physical harm against someone. In Tennessee, the term, for legal purposes, is a catchall for both offenses. And its corresponding charges could upend your life, even if you never laid a hand on your accuser. By familiarizing yourself with the state’s assault laws, you can understand the penalties you may face.

Tennessee’s assault laws

Tennessee recognizes three different types of assault. Each type accounts for varying levels of harm and intent. Simple assault, in the state, refers to any incident where the accused attempts or threatens to harm to another person. It also refers to any incident where they injure someone with intent or make physical contact with them. Intentional aggravated assault refers to any incident where the accused caused significant or fatal injuries to another person. It also refers to cases of strangulation, or where the accused allegedly brandished a lethal weapon. And reckless aggravated assault refers to any incident where the accused caused serious or fatal injury by accident.

The penalties for assault

The penalties for your assault charges will depend on the offense you are accused of. Simple assaults may be Class B misdemeanors if your accuser alleges you made physical contact with them. Yet, if harm occurred, these become Class A misdemeanors. If convicted, you may have to pay a fine of up to $2,500. You could also face a prison sentence of up to one year as well. Reckless aggravated assaults are Class D felonies. If convicted, you could face a sentence ranging between two and 12 years. And intentional aggravated assaults are Class C felonies. If convicted, you could face a sentence ranging from three to 15 years. For both types of aggravated assault, you may have to pay a substantial fine, too.

If you have received assault charges, you must understand the gravity of the penalties you could face. A criminal defense attorney can help you assess your options for moving forward.