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If you face assault charges, you face one of the major forks in the road of your life. You can face jail time, as well as hand over hundreds of dollars in fines. Assault also comes in a couple of legal definitions. There is simple assault and there is aggravated assault. To understand the difference between the two charges is important, as an aggravated assault charge carries with it a much stiffer penalty.

Knowing the difference between the two different types of assault charges is one reason why you should consult with a Georgia licensed criminal defense attorney who has successfully litigated numerous cases that involved assault charges. Another reason to work with a highly skilled criminal defense lawyer is you can expect the prosecution team to be represented by some of the most accomplished litigators in the Georgia criminal justice system. A public defender is typically no match for a state sanctioned criminal prosecution team.

Georgia Assault Law

Georgia assault law is defined by statute O.C.G.A. §16-5-23.1:

“A person commits the offense of simple assault when he or she either (1) attempts to commit a violent injury to the person of another; or (2) commits an act which places another in reasonable apprehension of immediately receiving a violent injury.”


Defining Reasonable Apprehension

Although Georgia law is relatively clear in defining assault, there is a term that has required numerous interpretations, including rulings issued by the Georgia Supreme Court. The term is “Reasonable Apprehension,” and the Georgia court system has typically ruled the term to mean an action must follow a verbal threat. For example, if someone screams “I’m going to stab you,” but the person does not display a knife or any other type of weapon capable of stabbing someone, then there is no “reasonable apprehension” to justify an assault charge.

The ambiguity of “reasonable apprehension” is just one of many reasons why anyone charged with simple assault should immediately contact an experienced Georgia criminal defense lawyer that has argued cases in front of judge and jury that centered on defining the term “reasonable apprehension.”

Burden of Proof

Facing an assault charge can dramatically change your life. The pressure of potentially facing jail time combined with the legal expertise of the prosecution can force defendants into making poor choices for legal counsel. You should know that you have two things going your way during an assault proceeding. First, by working with the highly rated criminal defense team at Garland Law Group, you have the legal firepower to negate any skills and experienced possessed by the prosecution team. Second, criminal cases in Georgia require proof beyond a reasonable doubt.  We will explore every legal option available to plant the seed of reasonable doubt into the minds of the jury hearing your case.

What are the Penalties for Assault in Georgia?

Convictions on assault charges in Georgia are treated by the state judicial system as misdemeanors. Penalties for an assault conviction can be incarceration for up to one year and/or a fine not to exceed $1,000.

There are clearly defined exceptions to the penalty rule for simple assault in Georgia. A misdemeanor can move up to an aggravated assault that carries a longer prison sentence and a higher fine. Here are the exceptions to the penalty rule for assault cases in Georgia:

  • Assault occurs in a public transportation station or vehicle

  • Assault is committed against a woman who is pregnant

  • A senior 65 years or older is the victim

  • Crime perpetrated against a public-school system employee


Possible Assault Defenses

When you search for a criminal defense attorney, you want to work with one that understands every conceivable defense strategy to exonerate you of assault charges. Let’s look at the most common assault charge defenses:

  • Self-defense

  • Does not meet the “reasonable apprehension” standard

  • A future threat to hurt someone

  • Defending another person or a group of people

  • Defending private property

  • Innocent of charges


For planting the seed of doubt into the minds of the jury, having a powerful alibi and/or a credible witness testify under oath is a persuasive way for you to prove your innocence. Self-defense represents the big gray area under Georgia criminal law. An accomplished criminal defense lawyer will determine if you used a proper of self-defense to prevent physical harm. Defining what “future” means often comes down to the discretion of the criminal court where the legal proceeding is held.

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