Criminal laws fall under the jurisdiction of the state where the crime was committed and variances exist in legislation from state to state. There are also different kinds of assault charges, including simple assault, assault and battery, and aggravated assault. Simple assault is a Class 1 or Class A misdemeanour in most states, but the penalties can vary a great deal. Most states post their current statutes on the Internet.
The difference between simple assault and aggravated assault is the degree of harm the victim suffers. Aggravated assault also usually involves a weapon or happens in the course of a more serious crime. Simple assault can involve merely the threat to harm someone in some states, but most often is charged when someone purposely or negligently causes physical injury to another.
Sentences for a third degree assault charge can run from six months in some states to five years imprisonment in others. It depends on where the crime occurred. In Colorado, for example, it is punishable by up to two years in jail, the term ultimately determined by whether or not it is a first offence and the extent of the injury the victim suffered. Someone guilty of assault can be imprisoned for five years in Minnesota if the assault harmed a child younger than four years old. In Connecticut, punishment is up to a year in jail, and in Mississippi, only six months.
Most states impose fines as well as jail time for assault convictions. In Mississippi, this is typically £325. However, in Minnesota, it can be as much as £6,500, depending on the severity of the crime. Most states range somewhere in between.
The nature and duration of probation involved for a third degree assault charge also varies with the severity of the crime. In Colorado, if the crime is classified as domestic violence, mandatory counselling is included in probation.
Some states will bump an assault charge up to a felony under special circumstances. In July 2009, Oregon changed its legislation to make third degree assault a felony charge if it occurs in the course of a DUI, by inadvertently hitting someone or another vehicle after you've been drinking. Punishment is up to 10 years in jail and a fine up to £162,500, with a minimum of three years probation. Connecticut courts will increase prison terms for third degree assault if the crime is committed against a pregnant woman or a blind person.