Interviewer: If it’s a first offense, what determines if it’s going to be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor?
Attorney Churak: Assault-family violence, such as hitting or pushing an individual, is a Class A misdemeanor, so it’s subject to up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine. If you have previously been convicted of a family violence case, and it doesn’t have to necessarily be the same individual, it can be an ex-girlfriend, a totally different individual but you have a prior conviction, it becomes a felony, state jail felony, which is up to 2 years in state jail.
If it’s alleged that you choked the individual, in other words, put your hands around the individual’s neck, then it becomes a third degree felony and at that point in time, you’re looking at up to 2 to 10 years in prison. So the stakes go up even higher if there’s an allegation of choking.
Inflicting serious bodily injury on an individual, for example, if there were broken bones, upgrades the charge to assault-serious bodily injury which is a second degree felony. But the totality of the injuries has to comprise more than just a couple of bumps and bruises. There has to be some broken bones, such as a shattered eye socket or a broken nose, something like that.