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How Are Assault And Battery Charges Defined in New York?


  1. New York’s legislature defines the various assault crimes within Article 120 of the Penal Law. There are presently 13 different assault crimes, and most of those have multiple subsections showing even more ways one can be guilty of an assault. Each assault crime has its own elements defined by its statute.
  2. The one common element to all assault crimes is they each require physical injury.
  3. The legislature defines physical injury as “impairment of physical condition or substantial pain.”
  4. Battery is a common law crime, which is judge-made law before the legislature started to define crimes. Battery was an intentional unpermitted act causing harmful or offensive contact with the “person” of another.
  5. Battery is no longer a crime in New York. But it survives as the non- criminal offense of harassment in the second degree.
  6. A person is guilty of harassment in the second degree when, with intent to harass, annoy or alarm another person he or she strikes, shoves, kicks or otherwise subjects such other person to physical contact, or attempts or threatens to do the same.
  7. Notice there is no physical injury element to harassment in the second degree.
  8. Battery also survives as a tort in New York. That is a basis for one person to sue another civilly.
  9. But the essential difference between assault and what was once battery is the requirement in assault of physical injury.

Are There Different Levels And Classifications of Each?

  1. Yes.
  2. Harassment in the second degree is a violation, punishable by no more than 15 days.
  3. Assault in the Third Degree is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by no more than one year in jail.
  4. Assault in the First Degree is a class D felony, punishable by no more than seven years.
  5. Assault in the Second Degree is a class B violent felony, punishable by no more than twenty-five years.
  6. There are numerous other assault crimes, such as vehicular assaults, assaults upon a child, assaults upon a judge, a police officer, a peace officer, a fire fighter or an EMT, and each has its own classification with its own sentencing limitations.

What Factors Can Enhance or Aggravate Assault Charges in New York?

  1. The first factor is the degree of injury, with more severe injuries allowing greater punishment.
  2. A second factor is the mental state of the defendant. An intentional act is often treated more severely than a reckless or criminally negligent act.
  3. A third factor is the presence of a weapon, which increases the potential sentencing.
  4. A fourth factor, especially in gang assaults, is the assistance of others in the assaultive conduct.
  5. A fifth factor is the victim, with a child or certain professions (judge, police officer) receiving additional protections from the law.

What Are Assault And Battery Actions Against Certain Victims For Certain Purposes?

  1. A person is guilty of reckless assault of a child when, being eighteen years of age or more, such person recklessly causes serious physical injury to the brain of a child less than five years old by shaking the child, or by slamming or throwing the child so as to impact the child’s head on a hard surface or object.
  2. A person is guilty of vehicular assault in the second degree when he or she causes serious physical injury to another person, and operates a motor vehicle in violation of subdivision two, three, four or four-a of section eleven hundred ninety-two of the vehicle and traffic law or operates a vessel or public vessel in violation of paragraph (b), ©, (d) or (e) of subdivision two of section forty-nine-a of the navigation law, and as a result of such intoxication or impairment by the use of a drug, or by the combined influence of drugs or of alcohol and any drug or drugs, operates such motor vehicle, vessel or public vessel in a manner that causes such serious physical injury to such other person.
  3. These are just examples of certain persons or purposes that the legislature has singled out for additional protection.

For more information on Assault & Battery Charges, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (845) 794-1303 today.

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