Words have meaning and some words can incite strong emotional responses. For example, in the minds of many people, the word “assault” may conjure images of a violent act. The phrase “assault with a deadly weapon” can be even more frightening as it implies a life-threatening action.

Any assault charge is serious. Depending on the circumstances, a conviction could result in such penalties as jail time and probation. However, when the charge is elevated to that of assault with a deadly weapon, a conviction could carry a more severe punishment and may lead to a long-term damage in reputation that would be very difficult for a person to overcome.

What is the difference between a simple assault charge and assault with a deadly weapon? Well, first, understand that assault with a deadly weapon is a form of aggravated assault. While simple assaults may be classified as misdemeanors, aggravated assaults are typically prosecuted as felonies.

There are several factors that could contribute to assault charges being labeled as aggravated, including the alleged perpetrator’s intentions, the victim’s status and the extent of any injuries that were caused by the assault.

The use of a weapon is also a possible contributing factor for an aggravated assault charge. However, the weapon only needs to be used to threaten a victim. Even if you have no intention of doing someone else harm, simply brandishing a weapon, be it a knife, gun or other potentially lethal implement, could lead to an assault with a deadly weapon charge.

If you have been arrested and charged with committing an assault with a deadly weapon, you will likely wish to contact a criminal defense attorney prior to speaking to the authorities about the event in question. Based on the circumstances of the incident, you may have a demonstrable defense for your actions that could help you get the charges dropped or reduced.  An attorney may be able to help you get your best possible outcome through such avenues as a criminal trial or engaging in the plea bargaining process.