Under Ohio law, you don’t have to try to assault someone to face criminal charges. Yes, there is a criminal assault charge that doesn’t require any intent. You can also face fairly serious assault charges even when you don’t harm anyone.

While people commonly think of an “assault” as a fight or even a one-sided violent interaction—under the law, it’s not so simple.

Simple Assault

Simple assault is also referred to as “assault” or misdemeanor assault in Ohio courts. It can carry up to 6 months in jail and $1,000 in fines as a first degree misdemeanor. You may be charged with this offense if you:

  • Recklessly cause serious physical harm to another, or
  • Knowingly cause or attempt to cause physical harm to another.

This means that you can be charged with this assault offense even if you don’t intend to hurt anyone at all.

Ref: ORC 2903.13

Negligent Assault

Negligent assault is the least serious of all assault crimes. It is still considered a 3rd degree misdemeanor, however, and can result in up to 60 days in jail and $500 in fines.

If you’re being charged with this offense, it’s because the prosecution believes you acted with negligence while handling a deadly weapon your negligence cause someone physical harm. These kind of charges sometimes occur when hunting and not following proper safety precautions, for example.

Ref: ORC 2903.14

Felony Assault Laws in Ohio

The most serious assault offense under Ohio law is felony assault. This crime is considered a second degree felony and can carry anywhere from 2 to 8 years behind bars and fines reaching up to $20,000.

You could be facing this charge it you cause serious harm to an unborn child or you cause (or attempt to cause) harm with the use of a deadly weapon.

Yes, this means you could face felony charges for trying to cause harm with a weapon, whether or not actually cause any injury.

Ref: ORC 2903.11

Aggravated Assault Laws

There are slight differences between felony assault, as described above, and the offense of aggravated assault. This difference is that an aggravated assault must be done “under the influence of sudden passion or in a fit of rage.”

If you have this state of mind while causing serious harm to an unborn child or causing or attempting to cause harm with the use of a weapon, you could face this charge.

Aggravated assault is considered a “crime of passion” in this regard and the courts give you a slightly more lenient charge if they find you were in this state of heightened emotions because it’s widely accepted that people aren’t the most rational in situations like these.

Aggravated assault is considered a 4th degree felony and carries a potential 18 months to 6 years in prison and $5,000 in fines.

Ref: ORC 2903.12

When you’re charged with any assault offense in the state of Ohio, you can be certain the prosecution will take the charges very seriously. It’s in your best interest to take them seriously as well.

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