Connecticut Second Degree Assault Laws

Connecticut classifies assault by degree, depending on the accused’s intent, the seriousness of the injury, the means used to inflict the injury, and the seriousness of the risks created by the accused. Assault in the first degree (the most serious) and assault in the second degree are felonies, while assault in the third degree is a misdemeanor.

To learn about assault in the first degree, see Felony Assault in the First Degree in Connecticut.

To learn about assault in the third degree, see Third Degree Assault in Connecticut.

Assault in the Second Degree

A person commits assault in the second degree, classified as a Class D felony, in any of the six ways discussed below:

  • by intending to cause serious physical injury to a person and causing such injury to the person, or to a third person
  • by intending to cause physical injury to another person and causing physical injury to that person, or a third person, by means of a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument, other than by discharging a firearm
  • by recklessly causing serious physical injury to a person with a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument
  • by intentionally causing stupor, unconsciousness, or another physical impairment or injury to a person by administering, without the person’s consent, a drug, substance or preparation capable of producing those conditions, unless for lawful medical or therapeutic treatment
  • while on parole from a correctional institution, by intending to and causing physical injury to an employee or member of the Board of Pardons and Paroles, or
  • by intending to cause serious physical injury to another person by rendering such other person unconscious, and without provocation by such other person, causing injury to the other person by striking him on the head.

(Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 53a-60.)

Assault in the Second Degree With a Firearm

A person commits assault in the second degree with a firearm by committing assault in the second degree in one of the ways discussed above, and, while committing the assault, taking one of the following actions with a pistol, revolver, machine gun, shotgun, rifle, or other firearm:

  • using the firearm
  • while armed with the firearm, threatening to use it
  • displaying the firearm, or
  • representing by words or conduct that the person possesses the firearm.

(Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § § 53a-60, 53a-60a.)

Assault in the Second Degree With a Motor Vehicle

A person commits assault in the second degree with a motor vehicle by operating a motor vehicle under the influence of intoxicating liquor, any drug, or both; and causing serious physical injury to another person as a result of the effect of the liquor or drug.

(Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 53a-60d.)

What Distinguishes Intentional and Reckless Conduct?

Intentional behavior occurs when a person acts with the conscious desire to cause a result or to engage in specific conduct. For example, aiming a gun at a person and pulling the trigger constitutes an intentional act.

A person acts “recklessly” by acting with a conscious disregard of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that a result will occur or that a circumstance exists. The risk must be of such that disregarding it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe in the situation. For example, firing bullets through a wall into an occupied apartment constitutes recklessness.

(Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 53a-3.)

What Is “Serious Physical Injury?"

Serious physical injury means either:

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

Loss of consciousness, bullet wounds, and loss of body parts are normally considered serious physical injuries in Connecticut.

(Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 53a-3.)

What is “Physical Injury?”

Physical injury means impairment of physical condition or pain. This definition is intentionally broad, meaning anyimpairment of physical condition and any pain amounts to physical injury.

(Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 53a-3.)

What Is a “Deadly Weapon?”

A deadly weapon is any weapon, whether loaded or unloaded, from which a shot may be discharged; or a switchblade knife, gravity knife, billy, blackjack, bludgeon, or metal knuckles.

(Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 53a-3.)

What Is a “Dangerous Instrument?”

A dangerous instrument means any instrument, article or substance that, under the circumstances in which it is used or attempted or threatened to be used, is capable of causing death or serious physical injury. This includes any “vehicle,” as that term is defined by statute. A dog that has been commanded to attack also constitutes a dangerous instrument, unless the dog is owned by a law enforcement agency and the dog is in the performance of its duties under the direct supervision, care and control of an assigned law enforcement officer.

(Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 53a-3.)

A judge or jury must often examine the facts of a case and determine whether an alleged victim has suffered serious physical injury or whether an object constitutes a dangerous instrument. For example, in one case a jury decided that a garden hose nozzle constituted a dangerous instrument because the accused used it to beat the victim. In another case, a jury had to consider the manner and circumstances in which a defendant used his foot to determine if “feet and footwear” constituted a dangerous instrument at the time of the alleged crime.

Penalties for Assault in the Second Degree

Someone convicted of assault in the second degree can be subjected to any or all of the following penalties:

  • Incarceration. Imprisonment is permitted for up to five years. For a conviction of assault in the second degree with a firearm, the judge cannot reduce or suspend the term of imprisonment to less than one year. If the victim is an elderly, blind, disabled or pregnant person or a person with intellectual disability, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of two years (or three years, if the defendant used a firearm).
  • Fines. The court can impose a fine up to $5,000.
  • 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.
  • License suspension. For convictions of assault in the second degree with a motor vehicle, the judge must suspend the defendant’s driver’s license for one year. Following restoration of driving privileges and for a period of two years, any motor vehicles driven by the defendant must be equipped with an approved ignition interlock device.

(Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § § 53a-35a, 53a-60a, 53a-60b, 53a-60c, 53a-41, 53a-60d.)

See a Lawyer

If you are facing a charge of assault in the second degree, consider consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney who regularly practices in your area. A lawyer understands the often complicated meaning of statutes and procedures. Additionally, 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 can sometimes result in a reduction of charges or a reduction in asked-for penalties, such as less prison time, no prison time, probation, and lower fines. A local criminal defense attorney, who knows how the prosecutors and judges involved in your case typically handle such cases, can assist with these negotiations. Finally, if you decide to go to trial, having a good lawyer on your side will be essential.

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