Interviewer: What would you say are the most common misconceptions that people have about assault charges?
Court Koehler: I remember back before I went to law school, I didn’t really understand what assault was. Assault is really a broad category of assents. Assault can be, you don’t have to necessarily actually hit somebody, you don’t have to cause any actual damage. You have to cause, basically, a fear. You have to do something or take some kind of action or make some kind of threat that makes the other person afraid for their personal safety. That can really mean a lot of things. It could be, you might even be guilty of assault if you say something to somebody over the phone, if it’s the right kind of a threat. That’s one of the things, as far as misconceptions, a lot of people think you’re not going to get in trouble for assault if you don’t actually cause harm.
The More Serious the Crime, the More Likely it is to be Prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Office
That being said, the more serious the crime is, the more likely it is to get prosecuted or pursued by the district attorney or prosecutor’s office. You’re probably not going to see a lot of cases where somebody pretends to throw a punch at somebody else and it scares them and they end up getting charged with assault. I have seen those kinds of cases, and it does happen.
Common Client Mistakes Detrimental to a Favorable Outcome in an Assault Case
Interviewer: What are some mistakes that people might make aside from that? Do they state taking statements as confessions?
Court Koehler: Anytime you’re talking to the police, you should really be careful. Really, you should not talk to the police at all unless you’ve got an attorney present and that you’ve talked to them about what you’re going to say. You really can’t say anything that’s going to help you. I think what people think is they’re going to talk to the police reasonable and they’re going to tell the police their side of the story and the police are going to realize that this is a trumped up over reaction by the other person. It’s not going to happen that way. They’re going to listen to it in a biased way. I don’t mean to pick on police officers or anything like that, but it’s just sort of the nature of the way that they’re approaching the situation. They’ve been called to a house or a bar or something like that and there’s somebody complaining saying that you did something. They just tend to take the other side and look at it through the lens of the other person.
It is Not Advisable to Make Statements to the Police in the Absence of an Attorney
I think people assume that by talking to the police they can get them on their side or make them see things their way. Really, you just want to shut up. If you’re arrested, then you’re arrested. Maybe you have to bail out, but when it comes to fighting your charges, the less statements they have to use against you, really, the better it’s going to be. At the end of the day, the state’s going to have the burden to prove its charges against you. If they don’t have any evidence in the form of you making statements about what happened, then that’s going to make their job pretty tough. In terms of mistakes, that’s one that goes for any crime, pretty much. Assault is no different. You definitely don’t want to be talking to the police. You don’t want to be losing your temper when you have weapons on you. Don’t carry weapons to a place where I think any lawyer would basically tell you not to carry weapons around. I guess if you’ve gotten an assault charge then that’s sort of spilled milk, but don’t carry weapons around in places where there’s people that you might have issues with. That’s a bad idea.
There are Consequences for Violent Crimes Especially those Involving Domestic Violence
The other thing about assault charges that is not necessarily known or realized, is that you may be facing some problems with getting weapons in the future, in terms of gun permits and things like that. There’s consequences for violent crimes like that, especially with domestic violence assault. You probably won’t be able to carry a gun if you get convicted of even a misdemeanor domestic violence. That’s something that if you are a hunter, or a gun collector, or something like that, you definitely want to be sure that you’re really careful about that situation.