First degree assault is defined to encompass many acts, all of which must include malicious intent.

Malicious intent is a mental process possessed by an offender, out of which manifested actions are designed to produce great bodily harm or death to the victim. In other words, the offender was motivated by a mental process which intended to bring great bodily harm to the victim and acted on this intention.

Per Se First Degree Assault

Certain actions will create the presumption of first degree assault, as defined by the statute, and rebuttals to this presumption might be difficult to make. Pointing a firearm in the direction of a person and pulling the trigger will qualify. In general, use of deadly weapons that are likely to cause death or great bodily harm, such as stabbing with a knife, will also give rise to such a charge. It is important to understand that objects not designed or marketed as weapons, deadly or otherwise, can still be classified as deadly weapons if used in a deadly manner and if such usage is capable of producing results of death or great bodily harm.  An example is a brick used to strike the head of a victim with great force.

Neither immediacy of harm nor physical damage are necessary elements of first degree assault. Intentionally introducing Human Immunodeficiency Virus into the body of another will qualify, as well as any poison capable of producing death or serious illness.

Defenses to Charges of First Degree Assault

Under certain circumstances, actions executed by a person who either knew or should have known would result in death or great bodily harm will not give rise to charges. If attacked with deadly force, a victim is justified in responding in kind with deadly force, and even if that responsive force results in death or great bodily harm to the initial attacker, the person acting in self-defense will incur no liability.

Actions that succeed in causing great bodily harm but lack malice intent will not be recognized by courts as first degree assault. For example, a baseball player hits a home run over a fence and the baseball strikes a victim in the head. Since the player had no intention to harm the victim, no malice intent exists and therefore no first degree assault charge will result.

Intent exists in the mind of an actor, and can be misjudged or misrepresented. The legal system the United States contains built-in checks and balances to prevent misjudgment and resultant miscarriages of justice. Police, representing the executive branch of government, can bring charges and gather evidence, but only the courts constituting the judicial branch can convict a person of first degree assault.

Contact Us for Assistance

If you have been charged with an assault, but believe that you have a defense to one of the elements of the offense, you need a skilled legal team on your side. Contact or call The Nahajski Firm at 206-621-0500 for a free initial consultation.