Assault Laws in Delaware
In the state of Delaware, whenever one individual physically attacks another with the sole intention of causing physical injury or harming them, it is classified as assault. It is viewed as a crime of violence so being convicted of violating assault laws can negatively impact your life and the activities and endeavors you engage in. Keep in mind that even a minor altercation can escalate into violent circumstances situation that ultimately result in criminal charges.
There are several types of assault which are individually classified by degree. This depends on a number of different factors including:
- How serious the victim’s injuries are
- Intentions of the accused individual
- The age of the victim and their profession
- What the accused individual used to commit the assault and injure the other person
Additionally, there are 4 types of physical assault including aggravated assault, assault and battery, disorderly conduct, or domestic assault. You can also be charged with sexual assault for date rape or rape, kidnapping, or sexually abusing a minor.
What Constitutes Assault in the First Degree?
As with any other type of violent crime, assault in the first degree is an extremely serious felony. According to Delaware Code 11 Del. C. § 613, first degree assault is a Class B felony. The code states that you will be found guilty of assault in the first degree if you:
- Intentionally amputate, destroy, or permanently disable another person’s bodily member(s) or organ(s); this includes intentional permanent and serious disfigurement
- Intentionally and/or recklessly engage in the type of activity or conduct that causes serious physical injury to another individual and puts them at risk of dying
- Intentionally cause physical injury to a code enforcement constable or officer, an EMT (emergency medical technician), a fire marshal or fire police officer, a full-time or volunteer firefighter, a law-enforcement officer, or a paramedic while they are performing their duties
- Intentionally cause physical injury to an ambulance operator, a licensed physician, a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or a registered nurse (RN), a member of a rescue squad, or a paramedic while they are providing emergency medical care
- Intentionally cause physical injury to an individual who is aged 62 or older
- Intentionally or recklessly attempt to commit or engage in the commission of a felony that results in serious physical injury to other individuals (includes fleeing after the attempt or commission of the assault)
- Intentionally use a dangerous instrument or deadly weapon to cause another individual serious physical injury
Additionally, where the fifth point above is concerned, the accused cannot use the “lack of knowledge” defense and claim that they did not know the victim was 62 years of age or older.
Understanding Certain Terminologies Regarding Delaware Assault Laws
Whenever an assault case is being discussed, there are certain terminologies that are used in the case and under Delaware Code 11 Del. C. § 222:
Dangerous Instrument – any article, instrument, or substance that is used to cause the death of or serious physical injury to another individual, or any attempt or threat to do so, is defined as a dangerous instrument. Disabling chemical sprays and electronic control devices that can incapacitate an individual (e.g. Tasers) are also classified as dangerous instruments. The judge in the case must determine if the victim has suffered physical injury due to the use of a dangerous instrument or deadly weapon (see next).
Deadly weapon – a bicycle chain, billy club, blackjack, bludgeon, bomb, firearm, ice pick, knife, metal knuckles, razor, slingshot, or switchblade knife is classified as a deadly weapon. Furthermore, when any dangerous instrument (see above) is used, including the attempt or threat to use it, the instrument will be classified as a deadly weapon. NOTE: if a knife is carried in the folded position and the blade is 3” long or shorter, it is not usually classified as a deadly weapon.
Serious physical injury – in the state of Delaware, serious physical injury is defined in one of the following ways:
- Any injury resulting in the prolonged impairment of one’s health
- Any injury that causes permanent, prolonged, or serious disfigurement
- Any injury that is life-threatening and could ultimately result in a person’s death
- Any injury that results in the impairment or prolonged loss of any bodily organ’s ability to function
- Unlawfully terminating a pregnancy without the pregnant female’s prior consent
In many assault cases, serious physical injuries result in the need for medical attention and/or a surgical procedure in order to prevent permanent damage to a part of the human body or the permanent impairment of a specific bodily function.
Penalties for Assault in the First Degree
You could be subjected to any one of the following penalties (or a combination thereof) if you have been convicted of assault in the first degree:
- Incarceration – you could be imprisoned for a minimum of 2 years up to as many as 25 years. In the state of Delaware, the sentencing guidelines for first degree assault can be very complex and a number of different factors have to be taken into consideration.
- Fines and restitution – if deemed appropriate by the court, you could be fined and be ordered to pay restitution to the person you assaulted in order to compensate them for any financial loss they incurred from the assault.
- Probation – you could be placed on probation and have to meet with a probation officer on a regular basis. You may also have to meet other obligations such as attending a counseling class and maintaining employment throughout the probationary period.
- Community Service – as a part of your probation requirements, you may have to perform voluntary work for a specific number of hours with certain organizations (e.g. charitable) that have been approved by the court.
Delaware has very strict mandatory minimum sentences for assault convictions. This is true for even a first offense misdemeanor. Let our Delaware assailant defense lawyers protect your rights and help you obtain the best possible outcome.
Consult with an Experienced Assault Laws Attorney in Wilmington, DE
Whenever you are accused of assault in the first degree and face criminal prosecution, you’re going to need the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney in order to protect your rights and ensure the best possible outcome. They can help you to understand any defenses that are available, plea bargaining options that will most likely be offered, the nature of the charges against you, and what to expect once the trial has concluded or you have been convicted. You do face certain risks (see section above regarding penalties) so your situation warrants the expertise and legal advice that only a criminal defense attorney can provide.
I am New Castle County Assault Defense Attorney Brian J. Chapman and I have many years experience handling criminal cases regarding Delaware assault laws.
I serve the Newark, University of Delaware campus, Wilmington, Middletown, Bear, Glasgow, Pike Creek, Hockessin, Claymont, New Castle, Odessa, Townsend, Smyrna, Dover, Milford, Seaford, Georgetown, Lewes and Rehoboth Beach areas.