Altercations happen all the time, and when tempers run high, words and actions can lead to trouble with the law. In some cases, what starts as a simple disagreement could result in assault.

There are various levels of assault charges in Georgia, and many factors that may affect what defense strategy is most appropriate.

Simple assault

If one person tries to cause a violent injury to someone else, it is simple assault. It does not need to be a successful attempt, and perhaps no harm happened at all. Maybe the person only threatened violence in the heat of the moment. The law still considers that a simple assault offense.

Simple assault is a misdemeanor charge. A person with this conviction could spend as long as a year in jail, and a judge may order him or her to pay restitution as well as fines as high as $1,000.

A number of circumstances can bump the conviction up to “high and aggravated,” including if the assault occurred on public transportation or at a transit station, or if the individual committed the act against a senior citizen, a pregnant person or a family member. The fines increase to a $5,000 maximum in these cases.

Aggravated assault

Typically the outcome of more than just an argument, an aggravated assault charge may involve the intent to murder or rob someone. It may also involve a weapon, although this could be any instrument or device that can or does cause serious harm when wielded as a weapon, such as a bat. Assault with an object that can or does result in strangulation is also an aggravated assault offense, as is discharging a weapon from a vehicle.

Penalties for aggravated assault range from a minimum of one year in prison to a maximum of 50 years, and fines may be from $2,000 to $200,000. As with simple assault, circumstances such as the age of the individual assaulted, the location of the assault, the method of assault and other factors affect the harshness of the penalties.