Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Mar 5, 2020

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Assaulting someone is a criminal matter, but what many New Yorkers don’t realize is that an assault can be a misdemeanor or a felony. Our New York legal expert explains the differences between the two and provides information on the penalties which accompany each.

How does New York State define assault?

Elliot Schlissel, a New York criminal law lawyer whose firm represents individuals charged with criminal matters in the greater metropolitan New York area and Long Island, answered that question for us:

Assault is when one individual improperly touches, punches or has physical contact with another individual. An example is if you punch someone or get into a fight with them and you’re the aggressor, that assault would be a misdemeanor. If you hit somebody with an object that could be considered a weapon, whether the object is a telephone, a baseball bat, a plate or any other hard material, the assault can be a felony.

New York assault penalties

Penalties for assaulting someone in New York can be much more severe than most people think. Schlissel explained:

There are two types of criminal matters in the State of New York. Misdemeanors are lesser criminal matters, punishable by up to one year in jail; felonies are more severe criminal matters, punishable by more than one year in jail. The penalties for assault with one’s fist are up to one year in jail. The penalties for an assault with an object can be very severe. The assault can actually be charged as attempted murder in some situations. If you swing a baseball bat at someone you can be charged with attempted murder. The penalties can be extreme and involve very significant sentences in upstate New York penitentiaries.

If you’ve been arrested on a New York assault charge, contact an experienced New York criminal law lawyer to discuss your situation and evaluate your options.

The foregoing article has been prepared by an attorney who is a regular contributor to FreeAdvice, and is now undergoing review by the site’s editorial staff.