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Beyond the typical misdemeanor assault and battery crimes often associated with fistfights and barroom scuffles are serious felony assault crimes which demonstrate a wonton disregard for human life. Assaults that use a deadly weapon or that show an intent to kill are violent felonies that are subject to Oklahoma's "Eighty-Five Percent Rule," which means that a person convicted of one of these offenses must serve at least 85 percent of his or her sentence before becoming eligible for parole.
One cause for escalating an assault charge to a felony is the use of a dangerous weapon to perpetrate the offense. Oklahoma law does not specifically define what constitutes a dangerous weapon; it only states that someone who intends to inflict bodily harm and who uses a "sharp or dangerous weapon" to do so is guilty of Assault with a Dangerous Weapon.
The statute furthermore states that Assault with a Dangerous Weapon includes shooting someone "with any kind of firearm, air gun, conductive energy weapon or other means whatever" with the intent to cause harm, even without the intent to kill, is guilty of the offense. A vague definition of "dangerous weapon" leads to broad interpretation. Guns and knives, clearly, are regarded as dangerous weapons, as are instruments such as baseball bats, stun guns, and tasers.
However, any household item can be considered a dangerous weapon if used with the intent of inflicting bodily harm: a frying pan, lamp, chair, or virtually any other object can be considered a dangerous weapon if used in an attempt to injure another person. As a felony assault charge, Assault and Battery with a Dangerous Weapon is punishable by a maximum sentence of ten years in prison, even as a first offense.
If an assault results in permanent disfigurement or disability, an assault charge may be elevated to maiming. State law defines by stating, "Every person who, with premeditated design to injure another, inflicts upon his person any injury which disfigures his personal appearance or disables any member or organ of his body orseriously diminishes his physical vigor, is guilty of maiming."
In order for a disfigurement to be considered maiming, it must attract attention. A small scar or other injury which "can only be discovered by close inspection" is not considered maiming.
Although the defining statute says that maiming occurs as a result of premeditation, subsequent sections say that the disfigurement alone is enough to demonstrate premeditation, and that this premeditated intent may occur the instant before the injury is inflicted.
Maiming carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.
Assaults that are likely to cause death or that are intended to cause death are prosecuted and penalized more harshly than typical assault crimes. Assault with a Deadly Weapon, Shooting with Intent to Kill, and Administering Poison with Intent to Kill are the most serious of assault charges. An attempt to kill another person by poisoning is punishable by a minimum of ten years in prison; Shooting with Intent to Kill and Assault with a Deadly weapon carry life in prison as a potential penalty. These "Attempts to Kill" offenses are defined in 21 O.S. § 651-652.
"Any person who, with intent to kill, administers or causes or procures to be administered to another any poison which is actually taken by such other person but by which death is not caused shall be guilty of a felony, punishable by imprisonment in the State Penitentiary not less than ten (10) years."
These violent crimes are "85 percent crimes." In Oklahoma, a life sentence is calculated at 45 years for the purposes of parole. Because of the 85 percent rule, anyone sentenced to life in prison for conviction of Assault and Battery with a Deadly Weapon or Intent to Kill crimes must serve a minimum of 38 years and 3 months before becoming eligible for parole.
Any assault with intent to kill whose penalty is not specifically prescribed in § 652 is punishable by a maximum of five years in prison.
If an assault occurs in the commission of a felony or in an attempt to commit a felony, felonious assault charges may be filed in addition to any charges for the underlying crime. With the exception of assault with intent to kill, if penalties are not elsewhere prescribed in the statutes, assault with intent to commit a felony is punishable by a maximum of five years in prison.
The stakes are high in a felony assault case. Anyone convicted may be subject to tough minimum sentencing guidelines and the possibility of life behind bars. Finding an attorney with a solid background of successful assault defense is paramount for your success. Call for a free consultation to find out how our experienced attorneys have been able to successfully represent clients like you and to see how we can help you obtain a favorable outcome to your case.