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What turns a simple assault into aggravated assault?

In South Dakota as elsewhere, crimes of physical violence often result in assault charges. Someone’s arrest and the consequences for the other people involved will often determine what kind of charge the arrested individual faces.

Assault has many categories under criminal justice laws, but perhaps the most basic distinction is between simple assault, which is a misdemeanor, and aggravated assault, which is a felony offense. How do you know which category is appropriate for your situation?

How does South Dakota define simple assault?

Multiple actions could constitute simple assault under state law. South Dakota has several definitions for simple assault, including trying to cause bodily injury to someone, negligently causing injury with a dangerous weapon, recklessly injuring someone or attempting to cause another person to fear for their bodily safety.

Verbal threats and aggressive body language could become evidence in a pending assault charge where someone does not get hurt. In the scenarios where someone does suffer injuries, the extent of those injuries determines whether the assault charge is simple or aggravated. As long as an intentional act of violence does not cause serious bodily harm, it is usually a simple assault.

Multiple assault violations, even if they are technically simple assault, can lead to felony charges for subsequent offenses.

When is an assault aggravated in South Dakota?

When one person intentionally causes serious bodily harm to another or tries to cause harm to someone else, that may be aggravated assault. The same is true of a situation where someone’s action shows a clear indifference to the safety and well-being of other people.

If someone tries to hurt another while using a dangerous weapon or threatens someone with a weapon even though they don’t actually harm that person, they could face an aggravated assault charge. Finally, strangulation or otherwise impeding the flow of blood and respiration in a way that frightens a person can also be aggravated assault.

Other factors can influence the kind of assault charges someone faces. If the other people involved are emergency responders like police officers, there could be more serious charges and consequences. The same is true of a situation where an assault harms an unborn child. Anyone accused of causing bodily harm or attempting to do so could face major penalties and a serious criminal record unless they fight back and defend themselves.