Simple Assault is Not So Simple in Mississippi

A term like “simple assault” is extremely vague, especially when one considers the plethora of possible violent crimes in Mississippi. What exactly makes a simple assault “simple?” Is it the straightforward nature of the crime? Is it the lack of a deadly weapon? Could it be the minor nature of the resulting injuries? Many defendants ask these questions when they learn that they have been charged with simple assault in the State of Mississippi. The answers are not always clear, and it may take an experienced defense attorney to explain this deceptively complex crime in more detail. What exactly is simple assault in Mississippi?

Penalties for Simple Assault in Mississippi

The first thing you need to know about simple assault in Mississippi is that this crime is considered a misdemeanor. In other words, it is not a felony, and as such, the maximum penalties are lower. For most instances of simple assault, the longest period you can spend in jail is six months. In addition, you can face a fine of up to $500 for simple assault. 

When Might Someone Be Charged With Simple Assault in Mississippi?

Although the penalties for this offense seem clear enough, the definition of the charge may be more difficult to understand. Mississippi states that there are a number of situations that may lead to simple assault charges:

  • You attempt to cause bodily injury to another person
  • You purposely cause bodily injury to another person
  • You recklessly cause bodily injury to another person
  • You behave in a negligent manner with a deadly weapon, causing bodily injury to another person
  • You behave in a negligent manner with a deadly weapon in such a way that it is likely to cause death or serious harm to another person
  • You attempt by “physical menace” to make someone afraid that they will suffer “imminent serious bodily harm”

In order to break down this complex definition, it is necessary to examine each bullet point in more detail. The first point is very straightforward, and there is little room for interpretation. If you attempt to harm another person, you will be charged with simple assault. The same applies to the second bullet point. 

The term “reckless” requires an explanation in the third bullet point. Examples of recklessness include reckless driving, failure to adhere to safety regulations, or drunkenly stumbling down the street. This definition is extremely open-ended – but the main point is that you can be charged with simple assault even if you did not intend to harm another person. If you were acting recklessly enough, the criminal courts see this as equivalent to intentional harm. 

The next point involves negligent acts with a deadly weapon. For all intents and purposes, the criminal code is referring to firearms in this context. In other words, if you use your firearms in an extremely unsafe manner and there is an accidental discharge, you could be charged with simple assault if you injure someone in the process. Again, you may face this charge even if you didn’t intend to harm anyone. In fact, it is even possible to face simple assault charges if no one was injured by the accidental discharge. Simply putting other people in danger could be enough to warrant prosecution. 

The last bullet point is perhaps the most confusing. What exactly does “physical menace” mean? The easiest way to understand this concept is in the context of a threat. The basic form of threat involves words, such as “I’m going to kill you.” As the term implies, physical menace is physical rather than verbal in nature. In other words, you cannot carry out “physical menace” by simply uttering threatening words. You must also add some form of physical intimidation into the equation – or use physical intimidation alone. One of the most common forms of physical menace is brandishing a weapon – although there are many other possibilities. In some cases, defendants have faced criminal charges for simply reaching into their pockets. 

Find a Defense Attorney in Mississippi

If you have been searching for a qualified, experienced defense attorney in Mississippi, look no further than Vic Carmody Jr., P.A. We know that some of the laws regarding assault and battery can be confusing – especially if you have never encountered the criminal justice system before. Fortunately, you do not need to become a legal scholar in order to defend yourself effectively. Book your consultation today to learn more – and draw upon our extensive legal knowledge as you fight for your rights in Mississippi.

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