What Kind of Intent is Required for Assault?

According to O.C.G.A § 16-5-20, a simple assault includes any action that places another in reasonable apprehension of immediately receiving a violent injury. This statute includes an element of general intent, meaning that it doesn’t matter what the person performing the action intended to do- it only matters what the person observing the action apprehended.  In other words, there is no requirement that a person intended to create an apprehension of receiving violent injury. Technically, this means that something as simple as shaking your fist at someone (general intent because you intended to do the fist-shaking) could be charged as assault if the victim says that they apprehended a violent injury as a result- even if the accused never intended to actually harm the victim (meaning to cause the harm would be specific intent which is not an element of simple assault in Georgia).

O.C.G.A. § 16-5-21 defines aggravated assault as simple assault combined with one of three statutory aggravators: 1. intent to rob, rape or murder, 2. use of a deadly weapon or an offensive weapon likely to or actually resulting in serious bodily injury, or 3. shooting towards people from a vehicle without justification. There are many things that can be classified as deadly weapons if they are used in an offensive manner: automobiles, firearms, metal pipes, knives, etc. That means that any time a gun is involved and a victim is in apprehension of receiving an injury, regardless of the accused’s intent to harm anyone, aggravated assault charges could result.  It is important to note that aggravated assault still does not require specific intent. Basically, it doesn’t matter what the accused intended, only what the other party perceived.

Aggravated assault carries huge penalties in Georgia and could result in up to 20 years in prison. It is important that your attorney understands the elements of the charged crime and holds the State to their burden. If you have been charged with simple assault or aggravated assault in Fulton, Dekalb, Cobb, Gwinnett, or Clayton counties, you need a lawyer. Call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.