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.
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.
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.
A person commits 1st-degree assault by:
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:
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.
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.
A person commits 2nd-degree assault by:
Any act of second-degree assault (those listed above) committed while
falls under the crime of assault in the second degree with a firearm. Examples of firearms include pistols, revolvers, machine guns, shotguns, and rifles.
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.
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:
Third-degree assault is a misdemeanor offense in Connecticut.
A person commits assault in the 3rd degree by:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)