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New York Assault and Battery Laws

Overview of New York Assault and Battery Laws

New York criminal law prohibits varying forms of assault. The basic requirement for any assault conviction is that the defendant cause physical injury. Factors such as the seriousness of the injury, the use of deadly weapons, and the mental culpability of the defendant determine the degree of his or her offense.

Examples of New York Assault Offenses 

Intentional assault offenses require differing degrees of intent on the defendant's part to cause physical injury. Where intent to cause serious physical injury is an element of the offense, the prosecution must prove that the defendant intended to cause serious physical injury beyond a reasonable doubt. This specific intent requirement applies to first-degree and certain second-degree assault offenses.

On the other hand, where the prosecution need only establish an intent to cause physical injury, no additional specific intent need be proved, and the defendant's intent may be established by his or her acts or conduct, the surrounding circumstances, or inference.

    Example: Frank fired a shot at Leonard at close range, striking him in the chest. The prosecutor may establish the requisite intent for first-degree assault through Frank's use of a deadly weapon against Leonard at close range.

    Example: Frank fired a number of shots, one of which grazed Leonard's arm and left a small mark. The prosecution would have insufficient evidence to show beyond a reasonable doubt that Frank intended to cause serious physical injury to (or disfigure) Leonard.

Certain forms of second- and third-degree assault (e.g., the reckless causation of serious physical injury to another by means of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument and, with criminal negligence, the causation of physical injury to another by means of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument) do not require an intentional state of mind.

Aggravated Assault

A person commits aggravated assault when, with intent to cause serious physical injury to a person whom he or she knows or reasonably should know is a police officer or peace officer performing his or her duties, the defendant causes such injury by means of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument; or a defendant 18 years old or more commits third-degree assault upon a person less than 11 years old and has been previously convicted of the same offense within the last 3 years.

The following table provides key information about New York assault and battery laws. Remember, each case is different and while a certain defense tactic may work in one case, it may not work in another. 

Code Section

Penal Code Sections 120.00-120.12


  • First Degree Assault or Aggravated Assault on a Peace Officer: Class B Violent felonies
  • Second Degree Assault: Class D felony
  • Aggravated Assault on minor under age 11 by an adult: Class E felony
  • Third Degree Assault: Class A misdemeanor 

Defenses to Assault

  • Lack of injury
  • Lack of intent
  • Consent (defense is inapplicable to second-degree assault involving a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument and to third-degree assault involving intent to injure)
  • Justification - self-defense or defense of others (defense is inapplicable where defendant was the initial aggressor)

Prior Felony Convictions

If in the preceding ten years may increase the prison sentence imposed for his or her new conviction, whether the felonies were violent or non-violent in nature.

Definition of Physical Injury 

Impairment of physical condition or substantial pain



  • First Degree Assault or Aggravated Assault on a Peace Officer:: 3 to 25 years in prison or 10 to 30 years if aggravated assault on peace officer, up to a $5,000 fine
  • Second Degree Assault: 3 to 7 years prison, up to $5,000 fine
  • Aggravated Assault on minor under age 11 by an adult:  1.5 to 4 years in prison, up to $5,000 fine
  • Third Degree Assault: Up to 1 year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

Note: State laws are constantly changing - please contact a New York criminal attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Related Resources:

Charged with Assault in New York? Get Legal Help

Assault cases can be complicated, particularly when there are a number of defenses that you may be able to utilize. If you've been charged with assault in New York, it's in your best interest to contact a skilled local criminal defense attorney who will be able to see all angles of your case and possibly negotiate with the prosecutor for a lesser charge.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

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