Aggravated assault is a serious crime State of Georgia. The statute governing grievous bodily harm is detailed in the Official Code of Georgia, Annotated or OCGA § 16-5-21. It states that in Georgia, aggravated assault is any assault, attempted assault, or threat of assault with intent to murder, rape, or rob another person. Assaults with weapons or objects that could cause serious bodily harm, or attacks by firing a firearm from a vehicle at a person are also considered grievous bodily harm.
In Georgia, aggravated assault carries a minimum sentence of one year and a maximum of twenty years. Georgia grievous bodily harm law increases the sentence depending on the circumstances and the class of victims, as described below.
The minimum sentence increases to five years if the grievous bodily harm was directed at a correctional officer or police officer or involved firing a firearm from a vehicle. For serious attacks on elderly people (65 years and older) and for serious attacks on public transport vehicles, the minimum duration increases to three years. There are also specific penalties for these situations, including fines or longer minimum penalties:
- grievous bodily harm when it occurs between family members, including ex-spouses
- aggravated assault against a court official
- aggravated assault with intent to rape a person under the age of 14
- serious bodily harm in which the object of the theft was a vehicle used for the commercial transport of goods
For aggravated assault with attempted rape of a person under the age of 14, the minimum sentence is 25 years and the maximum sentence is 50 years. Good Atlanta attorneys can help you understand the potential penalties you may face in your grievous bodily harm case.
Aggravated assault does not require touching the victim or actual injury; rather, assault is the attempt or threat of violent injury by the perpetrator. Assault is any act that causes a reasonable person to fear the threat of violent personal contact. For example, if you point a gun at someone, you make them afraid of being shot. Weapon handling represents a potential ability to harm the victim and constitutes grievous bodily harm Georgia law.
Note that prosecutors can charge failed attempted assault by violence as grievous bodily harm. For example, if you swing a baseball bat at someone to harm them but miss the target, the Georgia Attorney’s Office can still charge you with aggravated assault. In a landmark case, Husband vs. State (2005), the court convicted a defendant of aggravated assault for making a threat with a gun drawn and pointed at the victim. Though the words promised a future act of violence, the current ability to cause harm bolstered the grievous bodily harm conviction.
In aggravated assault cases, as in other Georgia criminal cases, the burden of proof rests unequivocally with the state. Prosecutors must show evidence of violence, current ability to cause harm through violence, and show that the victim had a reasonable fear of impending violence. Evidence supporting the burden of proof includes the presence of weapons such as knives, firearms, and clubs. However, an attacker can use force with hands, fists or feet (in shoes/boots). The key lies in the current ability to do harm through violence and a reasonable fear of that violence.
If you’re facing aggravated assault charges in Georgia, there are some common defense tactics you can consider with your attorney. These defenses include:
- denial or innocence of fact
- lack of intention
- self defense
- defense of others
- defense of property
- The affected object was not a deadly weapon
In addition, for grievous bodily harm to occur, the victim must be conscious and aware of the threat. If the victim has consented to being touched or to the commission of the crime, this consent can also be used in the defence.