Assault may be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the nature and severity of the offense. Misdemeanor assault is also known as “simple” assault — the least serious form of the crime. Typically, it involves a minor injury or a limited threat of some sort of violence. There are some states in which assault may only be a physical attack, and therefore “simple” assault could be something like pushing someone or slapping them during an argument. Simple assault cases can have severe consequences if the alleged crime was committed against a member of a protected class. This includes firefighters, police officers, judges, teachers, social services workers, mental healthcare providers and utility workers. Defending assault cases Individuals who have been charged with simple assault have a variety of defense strategies available to them. The most common is the self-defense approach, in which the person accused of assault argues he or she was acting in self-defense or in defense of another party. To succeed in this approach, you will often need to prove the alleged victim initiated the confrontation and posed a threat to you or another person. If you have a witness who testifies the other person threw the first punch, for example, it would help your case. Another defense option would be arguing that your actions were accidental and that you had no criminal intent to harm the other person. Depending on the elements of your case, this may or may not be a viable strategy. To learn more about how to defend yourself when accused of misdemeanor assault, meet with an experienced La Plata criminal defense attorney at Mudd, Mudd & Fitzgerald, P.A.