In Tennessee, there are two main types of assault crimes: simple assault and aggravated assault. The major difference between the two is the severity of injury inflicted on the victim.
Definition of Simple Assault & Aggravated Assault
Simple assault is defined as knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly causing bodily injury to someone else, causing an individual to have a reasonable fear of imminent harm, or physical contact considered extremely provocative or offensive.
On the other hand, aggravated assault is defined as knowingly, intentionally, or reckless causing “serious” physical harm to another individual, attempts to cause physical injury by strangulation, or intentionally causing physical injury to a public employee or transit system working while the person is performing his or her duties. If a parent or guardian of a child or guardian of an adult fails or refuses to protect the child or adult from aggravated assault or child abuse, then they can be charged with aggravated assault. If a deadly weapon is used while committing simple assault, then it is considered aggravated assault.
Simple assault involves only minor injury like scrap, cut, or bruise, while aggravated assault involves significant harm, such as a broken bone, loss of limb, disfigurement, or an injury where surgery or hospitalization is mandatory.
When a person commits simple assault that results in bodily injury or the threat of immediate bodily harm, it is considered a Class A misdemeanor in Tennessee. Physical contact that is provocative or offensive is a Class B misdemeanor.
Since aggravated assault involves more serious injuries, the associated charges are often felonies. Aggravated assault is a Class C felony, while aggravated assault involving recklessness is a Class D felony. Aggravated assault involving failure to protect a child or adult from aggravated harm or abuse is a Class C felony. Aggravated assault against a public employee or transit worker is a Class A misdemeanor.