Assault in the First Degree in Arkansas

Arkansas divides assault into aggravated assault (the most serious), assault in the first degree, assault in the second degree, and assault in the third degree, depending on the accused’s intent, whether the accused used a firearm, and the seriousness of the risks created. Aggravated assault is a felony, while first, second and third degree assault are misdemeanors.

To learn about aggravated assault, see Arkansas Aggravated Assault Laws. For more information on assault in the second degree, see Assault in the Second Degree in Arkansas. To learn about assault in the third degree, seeAssault in the Third Degree in Arkansas.

Assault in the First Degree

A person commits assault in the first degree, classified as a Class A misdemeanor, if the person does either of the following:

  • recklessly engages in conduct that creates a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to another person, or
  • purposefully impedes or prevents the respiration of another person or the circulation of another person's blood by applying pressure on the throat or neck, or by blocking the person's nose or mouth.

(Ark. Code Ann. § 5-13-205.)

What constitutes “reckless” behavior?

A person acts recklessly when the person consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk. For example, in one case a jury found a defendant guilty of assault in the first degree when he fired a gun at a car containing four passengers.

(Ark. Code Ann. § 5-2-202.)

How does a person act “purposely?”

A person acts purposely with respect to his or her conduct, or with respect to a result of the conduct, when it is his or her conscious object to engage in conduct of that nature or to cause such a result. For example, if a defendant intentionally chokes another person, he has purposefully impeded respiration.

(Ark. Code Ann. § 5-2-202.)

Consent to impeded respiration or circulation

A person prosecuted for impeding or preventing the respiration or circulation of the blood of another person has a complete defense to the charge if the victim consented to the impeding or prevention of the victim’s respiration or circulation.

(Ark. Code Ann. § 5-13-205.)

What constitutes “serious physical injury?”

Serious physical injury means either:

  • physical injury that creates a substantial risk of death, or
  • physical injury that causes protracted disfigurement, protracted impairment of health, or loss or protracted impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.

(Ark. Code Ann. § 5-1-102.)

A judge or jury must often examine the specific facts of a case and determine whether a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury existed or whether an accused has acted recklessly. For example, in one case the court determined that a defendant acted recklessly by ingesting cocaine within two hours of driving, driving his car erratically and at a high rate of speed on a curvy road, looking over his shoulder and crossing the center line, and striking another vehicle without trying to stop.

Penalties for Assault in the First Degree

Someone convicted of assault in the first degree can be subjected to any or all of the following penalties (you can read more about misdemeanor sentencing in Arkansas Misdemeanor Crimes by Class and Sentences):

  • Incarceration. Imprisonment is permitted for not more than one year.
  • Fines. The court can impose a fine up to $2,500. If the defendant made money from committing the offense, the fine may be increased to an amount not exceeding twice the amount.
  • Probation. A person on probation regularly meets with a probation officer and fulfills other terms and conditions, such as maintaining employment and attending counseling.
  • Community service. Courts often include as a part of probation the requirement that the defendant work for a specified number of hours with court-approved organizations, such as charities.
  • Restitution. The Court can order the defendant to repay the victim for necessary medical and related expenses, in addition to lost income up to $50,000. If a victim dies, the Court can order the defendant to pay for necessary funeral and related services.

(Ark. Code Ann. § § 5-4-401, 5-4-201, 5-4-205.)

See a Lawyer

If you are facing a charge of assault in the first degree, consider consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney who regularly practices in your area. A lawyer will understand the complicated legal concepts involved in an assault case. Additionally, numerous defenses apply to charges of assault in the first degree; a lawyer can evaluate the strength of the prosecution’s case against you and help develop any defenses that might apply to your case.

A lawyer’s skillful negotiation with the prosecutor also can sometimes result in a reduction of charges or a reduction in penalties, such as less jail time, no jail time, probation, and lower fines. A local criminal defense attorney, who knows how the prosecutors and judges involved in your case typically handle such matters, can assist with these negotiations. Finally, a lawyer understands the complicated courtroom strategies and procedures required to conduct a trial.

Talk to a Lawyer

Start here to find criminal defense lawyers near you.

How it Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you
DEFEND YOUR RIGHTS

Talk to a Defense attorney

We've helped 95 clients find attorneys today.

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you