What is the Difference Between Simple and Aggravated Assault in Tennessee?

In the state of Tennessee, simple assault occurs when a person intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another person. Simple assault also includes the causing of a person to reasonably fear imminent bodily injury or causing physical contact with a person that a reasonable person would find extremely provocative or offensive. (Tenn. Code Ann. §39-13-101.)

Aggravated assault in Tennessee occurs when a person intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes or attempts to cause serious physical injury to another. If intentional physical injury is caused to a public employee or transit system worker while those workers are on duty, it is considered aggravated assault. Additionally, if a person is a parent or guardian of a child or a guardian of an adult and fails to protect the person in his or her care from aggravated assault or aggravated child abuse, or commits assault while under an order, diversion or probation agreement that prohibits assault, that person will have committed aggravated assault. (Tenn. Code Ann. §39-13-102.)

Penalties for Assault in Tennessee

Aggravated assaults are felony crimes in Tennessee. Simple assaults are considered misdemeanors. However, if a person were to commit simple assault while using or displaying a deadly weapon, that person will have committed aggravated assault.

Simple assault is considered a misdemeanor because it generally involved minor bodily injury, such as a bruise or scrape. Injuries such as broken bones, or disfigurement will likely be considered a felony assault.

In addition to jail time and/or fines, people convicted of assault may have to pay restitution to (reimburse) their victims for certain expenses incurred as a result of their injuries. This can include both medical expenses and property damage.

Alternatives to Jail for Simple or Aggravated Assaults

Tennessee law allows for alternatives to prison or jail time for people who have been convicted of aggravated or simple assault. Probation may be granted for some or all of the sentence. Conditions of probation include, but are not limited to, paying a fine, court costs, maintaining good behavior, electronic monitoring, staying away from the victim and their family, completing psychological treatment or performing volunteer work. Probation may be supervised or unsupervised. Supervised probation means that a probation officer will be overseeing your daily life and be ready to report any violations to the court. Unsupervised probation means that you must abide by all laws and not commit any criminal offense.

If you have been charged with assault in Tennessee, it is important to work with a Knoxville criminal defense attorney who will work to protect your rights. A criminal defense attorney from Oberman & Rice will properly investigate your case, counsel you and work to obtain the goals you set. Contact us at (865) 249-7200.