Assault and the Westchester County Domestic Violence Court - Part II Assault Elements

This Article is the second in a series explaining how Westchester County, New York criminal defense attorneys defend individuals charged with Assault in the Westchester County Domestic Violence Part. In Part I of the Article, I provided an overview of the criminal charge of Assault in the Westchester County, New York Domestic Violence Court. This section of the Article will focus on the elements of misdemeanor assault.

Under New York State Penal Law Section 120.00, a person is guilty of Assault in the 3rd degree when:

1. With intent to cause physical injury to another person, he causes such injury to such person or to a third person; or
2. He recklessly causes physical injury to another person; or
3. With criminal negligence, he causes physical injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument.

Assault in the 3rd degree is a Class A misdemeanor.

Accordingly, in New York, intent to cause physical injury is not the only means by which a person may be convicted of Assault. Actions that are deemed reckless or criminally negligent are all subject to an Assault charge.

There are, of course, defenses to an Assault charge. The most common defense utilized is "justification". There are several examples of "justifiable force". For example, under Penal Law Section 35.05, physical force is justifiable under several scenarios including emergency situations to avoid an imminent public or private injury which is about to occur and in which the person using the physical force is not at fault for the situation having arisen. Penal Law Section 35.10 authorizes the use of physical force in several situations including self defense, defense of a third person, in defense of premises, to prevent a larceny or criminal mischief, or to effect an arrest or prevent the escape from custody.

As in most New York criminal defense cases, the series of events, the actions of the actors, and the exact circumstances giving rise to the incident are unique and must be thoroughly investigated and evaluated to determine if a defense exists, or indeed, if a crime was properly charged.