In Mississippi, there are two types of assault a person can be charged with: simple and aggravated.
What is Simple Assault in Mississippi?
Mississippi law states that simple assault is a misdemeanor that occurs when a person:
1. Knowingly or recklessly causes or attempts to cause the bodily injury of another
2. Negligently causes bodily injury with either a deadly weapon or other instrument that is likely to cause death or injury
3. Threatens another person in a way that makes them fear imminent, serious bodily harm
A person does not need to inflict injury knowingly or with the specific intent to do so, if they inflict an injury because they were reckless, they may still be found guilty of simple assault (depending on the scale of the injury). An action is reckless if it was done without reasonable care or regard for the possible consequences. Actionable physical injuries are as simple as a cut or scrape. More substantial injuries mean that greater charges would be pressed on the person who inflicted the injury, and the incident would not be treated as a simple assault.
Simple Assault with Discriminatory Intent
The charge of simple assault can be "enhanced" (worsened in degree) if there was discriminatory intent. This means that if a person assaulted another on the basis of their color, gender, race, sexual orientation or religion and inflicted minor injuries, the penalties for normal simple assault can be doubled.
Simple Assault Against Enumerated Individuals
Simple assault against specific individuals can be upgraded from a misdemeanor to a felony. These "special" individuals include:
- elected officials
- law enforcement, firefighter or corrections officer
- emergency medical personnel
- social workers or family protection workers employed by the Human Services Department
- public school administrators or teachers
- judges or specific court employees
- a person over the age of 64 who is an incapacitated or disabled adult
For those who are designated 'special' victims because of their employment status, they must be employed at said post at the time the assault occurs.
When simple assault is committed intentionally against a pregnant woman, greater penalties will apply. If simple assault is committed in the domestic context, against a current or former spouse or other family member, greater penalties could apply as well.
Penalties for Simple Assault
General simple assault in Mississippi can be punished by up to 6 months in jail and a fine up to $500.00, or both. Simple assault with discriminatory intent can be punished by up to 12 months in jail and fine up to $1,000. Simple assault against an enumerated individual like those discussed above is punishable by a $1,000 fine and up to five years in prison, or both.
Intentional simple assault against a pregnant woman will be penalized as follows:
(a) If the conduct results in a miscarriage or stillbirth by that individual, a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than twenty (20) years or a fine of not more than Seven Thousand Five Hundred Dollars ($ 7,500.00), or both.
(b) If the conduct results in serious physical injury to the embryo or fetus, a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than twenty (20) years or a fine of not more than Five Thousand Dollars ($ 5,000.00), or both.
(c) If the conduct results in minor physical injury to the embryo or fetus, a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than six (6) months or a fine of not more than One Thousand Dollars ($ 1,000.00), or both.
In addition to these penalties, a person who commits simple assault in Mississippi may be ordered to up to the $5,000 in restitution to the victim, to reimburse them for any expenses they incurred as a result of the injury. In some cases, the court may impose probation in lieu of jail time to punish simple assault.
Defenses to Simple Assault in Mississippi
The most common defense assault charges is that the person was acting in self-defense. This can be established by showing that the defendant believed they faced imminent harm if they did not act. It may also be argued that the defendant was defending others, defending property or that the act that led to the injury was committed with the consent of the party that was ultimately injured.
If you have been charged with simple assault in Mississippi, it is critical that you contact a criminal defense attorney with experience in simple assault charges and a thorough knowledge of state law. William Housley has defended thousands of clients in the northern Mississippi area, and understands the importance of protecting your record from stigmatized criminal convictions.
What is Aggravated Assault in Mississippi?
Mississippi law states that aggravated assault is a felony that occurs when a person:
1. Attempts to cause serious bodily injury to another, or causes such injury purposely, knowingly or recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life
2. Attempts to cause or purposely or knowingly causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon or other means likely to produce death or serious bodily harm
3. Causes any injury to a child who is in the process of boarding or exiting a school bus
The chief component that differentiates simple assault from aggravated assault is the extent of the injury inflicted. Simple assault, in most cases, results in relatively minor injuries. If the injury is more sever in nature, such as a broken bone, head injury, injury that requires surgery or creates a disability, then this constitutes serious bodily injury and the charge is upgraded from simple assault to aggravated assault.
This charge is enhanced when a firearm is involved, there was discriminatory intent, or the assault was carried out against a special victim.
Penalties of Aggravated Assault
A person convicted of aggravated assault in Mississippi will face no more than 1 year in jail or no more than 20 years in a state penitentiary. If the aggravated assault is committed against a special, enumerated person, then the penalties are enhanced with a prison sentence up to 30 years and a fine no more than $5,000, or both. When a firearm is involved, the minimum prison sentence if 5 years. When the person who committed the crime is already a convicted felon, the minimum sentence becomes 10 years. Discriminatory intent will double the sentence and any imposed fines. The offender may be obliged to pay restitution, up to $5,000.
Defenses to Aggravated Assault
Like simple assault, the most potent and common defense to aggravated assault is the argument that the offender acted in self defense. The right attorney can evaluate your case and determine the most effective defense under your circumstances.
Battery in Mississippi
Mississippi recognizes battery in the form of sexual battery. A person who sexually penetrates another individual with any body part or instrument and without that person's consent is guilty of sexual battery. Mississippi law states:
(1) A person is guilty of sexual battery if he or she engages in sexual penetration with:
(a) Another person without his or her consent;
(b) A mentally defective, mentally incapacitated or physically helpless person;
(c) A child at least fourteen (14) but under sixteen (16) years of age, if the person is thirty-six (36) or more months older than the child; or
(d) A child under the age of fourteen (14) years of age, if the person is twenty-four (24) or more months older than the child.
(2) A person is guilty of sexual battery if he or she engages in sexual penetration with a child under the age of eighteen (18) years if the person is in a position of trust or authority over the child including without limitation the child's teacher, counselor, physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, minister, priest, physical therapist, chiropractor, legal guardian, parent, stepparent, aunt, uncle, scout leader or coach.
Penalties of Sexual Battery
Depending on the circumstances of the crime and the age of the victim, sexual battery is punishable by maximum penalties of 5 years to life in prison, fines ranging from $5,000-$10,000 or both. The court has discretion in the penalties it imposes.