In Vermont, a person commits the crime of aggravated assault, a felony, by causing or attempting to cause serious bodily injury to another person.
Assaults that merely cause bodily injury are misdemeanors. For more information on these crimes, see Vermont Assault and Battery Laws. For more information on assaults committed with a weapon, see Assault With a Deadly Weapon in Vermont.
Causing Serious Bodily Injury
A person commits the crime of aggravated assault in Vermont by purposely, knowingly, or recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life causing or attempting to cause serious bodily injury. Under Vermont’s laws, serious bodily injury is strangulation, suffocation, or any injury that creates a significant risk of death; or causes substantial disfigurement or impairment of any part of the body or of health.
(Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, §§ 1021, 1024.)
Under general principles of law, people act purposely when they consciously desire to engage in a certain course of conduct or obtain particular results. People act knowingly when they have an awareness of the nature or consequences of their conduct. People act recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life when they disregard the substantial risks of their conduct or the consequences of their actions. Reckless behavior is always a gross deviation from how a reasonable person would behave.
Examples of aggravated assault might include kicking someone in the head or choking someone. An example of acting recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life might be hitting someone so hard that the person is knocked unconscious and then hiding the victim so that no medical aid can be given.
Causing Unconsciousness or Incapacitation
Under Vermont’s laws, aggravated assault can also be committed if a person intentionally causes unconsciousness or other physical or mental impairment or injury by administering a drug or other substance without the victim’s consent (for purposes that are not medical or therapeutic).
(Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 1024.)
For example, placing a drug in someone’s drink that renders the victim unconscious would probably be considered aggravated assault.
Causing Injury to Prevent Law Enforcement
The crime of aggravated assault is also committed if the defendant causes injury to any person with the intent to prevent a law enforcement officer from performing the officer’s duties. (Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 1024.)
Aggravated Assault Against a Protected Employee
Aggravated assaults that are committed against certain protected are punished more severely in Vermont if the victim is engaged in official duties. Protected employees include:
- law enforcement officers
- correctional officers
- health care workers, and
- emergency medical personnel.
(Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, §§ 1028, 1028a.)
Aggravated Domestic Assault
In Vermont, injuring a family or household member is domestic assault. Family and household members are people who are related by blood, marriage, or adoption, people who live together or who have lived together, people who have children together, and people who have dated.
Any domestic assault that causes serious bodily injury or by a defendant who has previously been convicted of aggravated domestic assault is first degree aggravated domestic assault. Any domestic assault committed by someone who is under a restraining order or has previously been convicted of domestic violence is second degree aggravated domestic assault.
(Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, §§ 1042, 1043, 1044, tit. 15, § 1101.)
For more information on domestic violence, see Domestic Violence in Vermont.
First degree aggravated domestic assault is punishable by up to 15 years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $25,000. Other aggravated assaults that cause or attempt to cause serious bodily injury are punishable by up to 15 years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000.
Second degree aggravated domestic assault is punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000. Other types of aggravated assault are punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $5,000.
Aggravated assaults against protected employees are punished by an additional year in jail for a first offense, and an additional ten years in prison for second and subsequent offenses.
(Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, §§ 1024, 1028, 1028a, 1042, 1043, 1044.)
Getting Legal Advice and Representation
An aggravated assault conviction can have very serious consequences. If you are charged with aggravated assault, you should contact a Vermont criminal defense attorney immediately. An attorney will be able to tell you how your case is likely to be treated by the court system, based on the facts and the assigned prosecutor and judge. With the assistance of an attorney, you will be able to obtain the best outcome for your case, which could include getting the charges dismissed or reduced, obtaining a not guilty verdict, or receiving a lesser sentence than the maximum allowed by law.