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Aggravated Assault vs. Simple Assault: What’s the Difference?

Aggravated Assault vs. Simple Assault: Understanding Key Differences


Criminal accusations can be extremely terrifying for anyone, regardless of the gravity of the situation. 

Assault is one of those significant offenses in Tennessee that carries severe penalties for those convicted.

It is crucial to comprehend the various classifications of assault, their respective definitions, and the corresponding penalties. 

Gaining this knowledge may prove to be of the utmost importance in order to prevent the potentially life-altering consequences of a criminal conviction. 

Regardless of the nature of the assault charges against you, a Nashville criminal attorney can be of assistance. 

So, what are the differences between aggravated assault vs. simple assault? Keep reading to know more. 

What is an Assault?


Assault is a criminal offense in Tennessee when an individual causes bodily harm to another, instills fear of harm in that person, or engages in conduct that a reasonable person would find extremely objectionable. This is outlined in § 39-13-101 of the Tennessee Code. 

1.      Causing Bodily Injury

If someone hurts another person on purpose, knowingly, or recklessly, it’s assault.

2.      Reasonable Fear of Injury

If someone intentionally or knowingly makes another person reasonably afraid they’re going to get hurt, that’s also assault.

3.      Offensive or Provocative Physical Contact

If someone intentionally or knowingly touches another person in a way that a reasonable person would find really offensive or provocative, that’s considered assault, too.

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In Tennessee, “offensive or provocative” includes any action meant to harm, insult, or scare someone, like making threats. So, assault covers a wide range of actions, from causing harm to just making someone afraid of harm.

Just like with any crime, how serious the assault is will affect the punishment in court. It’s crucial to have a good defense attorney who knows the ins and outs of criminal law to help you avoid serious legal consequences. 

Aggravated Assault vs. Simple Assault


Now that you know what constitutes an assault, let’s learn about aggravated assault vs. simple assault:

Simple Assault

A simple assault accusation in Tennessee typically carries a Class A misdemeanor classification. You could potentially spend up to one year in prison and pay fines of up to $2,500 if found guilty. Basic forms of assault frequently encompass actions such as striking, kicking, or slapping an individual.

·     Hitting or Slapping: If you punch, kick, or slap someone.

·     Physical Fights: Any kind of physical fight without using weapons.

·     Threatening Harm: If you threaten to hurt someone.

Therefore, it is critical to understand that despite the seemingly innocuous nature of the offense, the repercussions can be quite severe.

Aggravated Assault

Simple assault does not carry the same level of seriousness as aggravated assault. It constitutes a felony and occurs when one of the following occurs: 1. does a simple assault while using a dangerous weapon, or 2. the assault leads to really serious injuries.

As a result of recent events, the penalty for aggravated assault is now subject to modification. A guilty plea could result in a prison sentence of three to fifteen years and a fine of up to $10,000, in addition to the penalties associated with a Class C felony classification. The following are some instances of aggravated assault:

·     Causing Serious Injuries: Injuring someone really badly during a fight.

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·     Using a Weapon: Hurting someone with a gun, knife, or any other dangerous tool.

So, aggravated assault is a big deal with more severe consequences when it comes to aggravated assault vs. simple assault.


Navigating criminal law, particularly charges of assault, in Nashville, Tennessee, can present considerable complexity. Therefore, it is imperative that you contact a criminal attorney without delay. They can provide you with the necessary guidance to manage the situation. 

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