Assault and Domestic Violence
In New Hampshire, there are several variants of assault that may also fall under the umbrella of domestic violence related offenses, or in the case of misdemeanor assault, be charged under a new statute NH RSA 631 titled Domestic Violence. Domestic violence crimes have many consequences including family law, personal reputation, criminal court, and firearms rights. For example, one convicted of a crime of involving the use or threatened use of force in a domestic relationship under NH RSA 173-B:1.
First Degree Assault
First and second degree assault charges are brought in Superior Court. First degree Assault is a Class A felony, punishable by up to 7.5-15 years in prison and $4,000 fine.
First degree assault are typically charged two ways. First, the State alleges one purposely (with specific intent) caused serious bodily injury to another. Second, the State alleges one caused bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon. NH RSA 625:11(V) defines deadly weapon.
Second Degree Assault
Class B felony second degree assault is punishable by up to 3.5-7 years in prison and a 4,000 fine.
The state can seek to prove second degree assault in more variations than first degree assault. A few examples are: 1) if one recklessly causes injury to another involving a deadly weapon or; 2) if one knowingly or recklessly causes serious bodily injury to another.
2nd Degree Assault - Strangulation
Strangulation is likely the most common variant of second degree assault charged in New Hampshire Superior Courts. Under RSA 631:2(I)(c), strangulation "means the application of pressure to another person's throat or neck, or the blocking of the person's nose or mouth, that causes the person to experience impeded breathing or blood circulation or a change in voice."
Governor John Lynch signed the bill which went into effect in 2011. Since that time, many courts have permitted expert testimony regarding the connection between physical injuries (or lack thereof) and strangulation. Further, in part due to the tragic deaths that contributed to this law's passage, law enforcement and prosecutor's offices treat strangulation cases very seriously.
Simple Assault & District Court Domestic Violence
Simple Assault charges are typically brought in District Courts or as separate charges or alternative theories to felony charges in Superior Court. Class A misdemeanor simple assault charges carry up to 12 months in jail and a $2,000 fine, plus penalty assessment. Domestic Violence charges now carry a mandatory $50 payable fine. Class B misdemeanor simple assault charges are punishable by up to $1,200 fine, plus penalty assessment.
The State must prove one caused unprivileged contact to another for a judge or jury to convict of simple assault. What is unprivileged? Ultimately, that is up to the fact finder, however, contact inflicted in self-defense, defense of others, or defense of property is privileged. Or, the contact may have been privileged due to a relationship or misunderstanding between the involved parties.