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What constitutes assault in Mississippi?

Mississippi law distinguishes between different types of assault. Simple assault, aggravated assault and assault against special victims all carry specific penalties upon conviction.

In Mississippi, assault is defined by four qualifying actions: attempting to physically injure someone, causing someone to fear imminent bodily harm because of physical threat, intentionally or recklessly causing actual physical injury to someone, or negligently causing physical injury to someone with a deadly weapon. A criminal charge of simple assault is a misdemeanor, conviction of which can result in a fine of up to $500 and jail time of up to six months.

Aggravated assault is defined as an attempt to cause serious bodily to someone, attempting to cause or actually causing bodily injury to someone with a deadly weapon, or causing serious bodily harm to someone with extreme indifference to the value of human life. Conviction of this assault charge can result in up to one year in jail or 20 years in prison.

Mississippi law also distinguishes between simple assault and assault on certain special victims. These special victims include elected officials, law enforcement, emergency medical personnel, teachers and social workers. If an assault is committed against any special victim while they are performing their duties as an employee, it is a felony that can result in a fine of up to $1,000 and/or five years in prison plus the victim's medical expenses.

A conviction for the combination of aggravated assault on a special victim can carry penalties of $5,000 and/or a 30 year prison sentence.

There are legal defenses to an assault charge, such as self-defense, defense of others and defense of property. The success of these defenses generally centers on a reasonable basis for fear of harm and the use of reasonable force necessary to diffuse the threat of harm.

Depending on the status of the victim, whether a weapon was used and other aggravating or mitigating factors, a charge of assault can result in varying penalties. For those facing assault charges, it is important to understand the types of assault, the elements of the alleged crime and the legal defenses available in order to obtain the most favorable outcome.

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