Felony and Misdemeanor Assault Crimes in Connecticut

Learn how Connecticut defines and punishes assault crimes in the first, second, and third degrees.

Updated by Rebecca Pirius, Attorney

Connecticut divides assault offenses into three degrees, with first-degree assault being the most serious and third-degree the least. Assault crimes range from a class A misdemeanor to a class A felony. Read on to learn how Connecticut defines and penalizes the various degrees of assault.

Connecticut Laws and Penalties for Assault Crimes

In Connecticut, a person commits assault by intentionally or recklessly causing some form of physical injury (including unconsciousness) to another. The state divides assault offenses by severity in terms of the resulting harm, the offender's actions and intent, and the targeted victim.

We review the crimes and penalties in the next three sections. Following those sections, you can find the definitions associated with these offenses.

Assault in the First Degree in Connecticut

First-degree assault offenses carry stiff felony penalties. These offenses involve serious physical injuries to a victim and conduct on the part of the offender that is particularly dangerous.

First-Degree Assault in CT

A person commits 1st-degree assault by:

  • intentionally causing serious physical injury to another (or a third person) with a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument
  • intentionally disfiguring another seriously and permanently or causing dismemberment or loss of organ functions
  • recklessly engaging in conduct under circumstances showing extreme indifference to human life, which creates a risk of death and causes serious physical injury to another
  • intentionally causing serious physical injury to another (or a third person), while aided by two or more persons who are present, or
  • intentionally causing physical injury to another (or a third person) by discharging a firearm.

Penalties for First-Degree Assault in CT

Most 1st-degree assault convictions carry class B felony penalties. A person convicted of a class B felony faces one to 40 years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

Mandatory minimum sentences apply in the following instances:

  • 10-year minimum if the victim was younger than 10 or a known witness
  • 5-year minimum if the victim was elderly, blind, physically or intellectually disabled, or pregnant, or
  • 5-year minimum if the assault resulted in serious physical injury by means of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument.

If the defendant knowingly assaulted a pregnant woman and the assault terminated the pregnancy, the offense is a class A felony. Class A felonies can be punished by 10 to 50 years in prison.

Assault in the Second Degree in Connecticut

Second-degree assault crimes are also felonies. These crimes generally involve dangerous conduct on the part of the offender, including using a firearm or driving while intoxicated. The harm to the victim can include serious physical injuries, physical injuries, or unconsciousness. There are three different types of second-degree assault crimes in Connecticut.

Second-Degree Assault in CT

A person commits 2nd-degree assault by:

  • intentionally causing serious physical injury to another (or to a third person)
  • intentionally causing physical injury, or recklessly causing serious physical injury, to another person (or a third person) by means of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument (not a firearm)
  • intentionally drugging a person without consent and causing the person to fall unconscious or suffer another physical impairment or injury
  • intentionally causing serious physical injury to another person by rendering them unconscious and, without provocation, striking their head, or
  • intentionally causing physical injury to another person by striking or kicking the person's head while they are in a lying position.

Second-Degree Assault With a Firearm in CT

Any act of second-degree assault (those listed above) committed while

  • being armed with a firearm and threatening to use it
  • using or displaying the firearm, or
  • suggesting by words or conduct of being armed with a firearm

falls under the crime of assault in the second degree with a firearm. Examples of firearms include pistols, revolvers, machine guns, shotguns, and rifles.

Second-Degree Assault With a Motor Vehicle in CT

A person commits assault in the 2nd degree with a vehicle by causing serious physical injury to another as a result of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of an intoxicating liquor or drug.

Penalties for Second-Degree Assault Offenses in CT

Second-degree assault and assault with a firearm are punished as class C felonies if they result in serious physical injuries. All other second-degree assault offenses are class D felonies, including assault with a vehicle.

A person convicted of a class C felony faces one to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. Class D felonies carry up to 5 years' prison time and a $5,000 fine.

Mandatory minimum sentences apply in the following cases:

  • 3-year minimum if the offense involved a firearm and the victim was elderly, blind, physically or intellectually disabled, or pregnant
  • 2-year minimum if the victim was elderly, blind, physically or intellectually disabled, or pregnant, and
  • 1-year minimum if the offense involved a firearm and the victim suffered physical injuries.

Assault in the Third Degree in Connecticut

Third-degree assault is a misdemeanor offense in Connecticut.

Third-Degree Assault in CT

A person commits assault in the 3rd degree by:

  • intending to cause and causing physical injury to another (or a third person)
  • recklessly causing serious physical injury to another, or
  • acting with criminal negligence and causing physical injury to another with a deadly weapon, dangerous instrument, or electronic defense weapon.

Penalties for Third-Degree Assault in CT

A person convicted of third-degree assault commits a class A misdemeanor, with a maximum punishment of up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine. The judge must impose the maximum one-year jail sentence in cases where the defendant used a weapon or the victim was elderly, blind, physically or intellectually disabled, or pregnant.

Assault Definitions in Connecticut

As you can see from the descriptions above, the offense level and penalties for assault offenses depend on the level of harm caused, the defendant's conduct or intent, and the victim harmed. Below are the definitions associated with the various assault crimes.

Defining Intentional, Reckless, and Criminal Negligence

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 consciously disregarding a substantial and unjustifiable risk of harm in a manner that is 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.

A person acts with "criminal negligence" by failing to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk of harm in a manner that is a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the situation. For example, speeding around a curve and crossing the center line may constitute criminal negligence.

Defining Serious Physical Injuries and Physical Injuries

Serious physical injury includes those that create a substantial risk of death, or cause serious disfigurement, impairment of health, or loss or impairment of any bodily organ function. Loss of consciousness, bullet wounds, and loss of body parts are normally considered serious physical injuries in Connecticut.

Physical injury means impairment of physical condition or pain. This definition is intentionally broad and may include bruises, lacerations, or any pain.

Defining Deadly Weapons, Dangerous Instruments, and Electronic Defense Weapons

A deadly weapon is any weapon from which a shot may be discharged (loaded or unloaded. It also includes a switchblade knife, gravity knife, billy club, bludgeon, or metal knuckles.

A dangerous instrument means any item capable of causing death or serious physical injury under the circumstances in which the person attempts, threatens, or employs its use. For instance, steel-toed boots, a brick, or even a garden hose can be dangerous instruments if used to harm someone. The definition also includes vehicles and attack dogs (excluding police dogs in the performance of their duties).

An electronic defense weapon operates by electronic impulse or current and is capable of immobilizing a person temporarily, but is not capable of inflicting death or serious physical injury. The definition includes stun guns and Tasers.

Talk to a Lawyer

If you're facing assault charges, contact a local criminal defense attorney. An attorney can explain what the charges mean and zealously defend your case. Having a conviction and record of any level of assault can have long-lasting consequences. You'll want a lawyer who knows the system, including how local judges and prosecutors tend to handle cases like yours.

(Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 53a-3, 53a-35a, 53a-36, 53a-41, 53A-42, 53a-59, 53a-59a -59c, -60, 60a, -60b, -60c, -60d, -61, 61a.)

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