Assault in the Third Degree in Arkansas

Arkansas divides assault crimes 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 seriousn

Arkansas divides assault crimes 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 first degree, see Assault in the First Degree in Arkansas. To learn about assault in the second degree, see Assault in the Second Degree in Arkansas.

Assault in the Third Degree

A person commits assault in the third degree, classified as a Class C misdemeanor, if the person purposely creates apprehension of imminent physical injury to another person.

(Ark. Code Ann. § 5-13-207.)

A judge or jury must often determine whether the defendant created an apprehension of imminent physical injury in another person. For example, in one case the court found sufficient evidence for a conviction for assault in the third degree when a defendant displayed a knife and stated to the victim, “Come on, I'm ready to kick your so-and-so ass right now.”

On the other hand, a court found that a defendant who possessed a firearm and attempted to break into a Pepsi truck did not commit assault in the third degree because he did not point the gun at the alleged victim and did not verbally threaten the victim.

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 desire to engage in conduct of that nature or to cause such a result. For example, if a defendant intentionally displays a knife to a victim and makes threats, the defendant has purposefully created apprehension in the victim.

(Ark. Code Ann. § 5-2-202.)

What constitutes “physical injury?”

Physical injury means either:

  • impairment of physical condition
  • infliction of substantial pain, or
  • infliction of bruising, swelling, or a visible mark associated with physical trauma.

(Ark. Code Ann. § 5-1-102.)

A judge or jury must often examine the specific facts of a case and determine whether a physical injury occurred. In making this determination, a jury may consider the severity of the defendant’s attack and the sensitivity of the injured portion of the victim’s body. In one case, the evidence was sufficient to prove physical injury when the victim testified that the defendant hit her “very hard” in the arm, she sought medical treatment, and had soreness in her arm for a week.

Penalties for assault in the third degree

Someone convicted of assault in the third 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 in jail is permitted for not more than thirty days.
  • Fines. The court can impose a fine up to $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 third degree, consider consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney who regularly practices in your area. Lawyers understand both the complicated legal concepts involved in an assault case, as well as the defenses which might apply. A lawyer can consider all the facts and evaluate the strength of the prosecution’s case against you and help you develop appropriate defenses.

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, if a trial is required, a lawyer understands the complicated courtroom strategies and procedures involved.

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