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What to Expect When Facing Assault Charges in Louisiana

You may think that trying to intimidate someone by threatening them is okay. The truth is, threatening someone is committing assault. You may receive assault charges for violating Louisiana law, which states an assault is a threat of bodily harm that makes a person fear impending violence. Aggravated assault is if you use a weapon during the assault.  

The New Orleans Crime Statistics Summary report shows that in 2016, the last year of actual data available on crime, there were 2,093 incidents of aggravated assault. The projection is that there will be 1,897 incidents of aggravated assault in 2020.  The projection relies on an analysis of 17 years of data.

Here is what you can expect to take place if assault charges are filed against you.

The Arrest

When arrested you are only legally obligated to provide your name and address to the police. You have the right to remain silent and not answer any questions without an attorney present.

If the police want to question you, tell them you want an attorney. Do not respond to their questions until your attorney is present. Many people think they will not say anything that hurts their case, or that appearing helpful will help them. This often causes more harm than good.  

What Happens After Arrest on Assault Charges

When arrested on assault charges in Louisiana, you will likely need to post a bond for release from jail. If you are not able to post a bond, you will remain incarcerated throughout the court process.

Probable Cause Determination

The probable cause determination takes place within 48 hours of your arrest and may take place without you or your attorney. A judge and the district attorney will conduct the hearing to determine if there is probable cause to justify your arrest.

First Appearance: Bond Hearing

If your assault charge is a felony crime, you will need to appear before a magistrate for a bond hearing. At this time your bond will be set based on the nature of the alleged assault, your prior criminal record, and the likelihood of you returning to court for future hearings.

District Attorney Reviews Case

Following the arrest and bond hearing, the district attorney’s office will review the file to decide if they will file formal charges.

If you are in jail, the district attorney must file an indictment or bill of information within 45 days of the arrest on a misdemeanor charge. They have 60 days following the arrest if it is a felony charge.

If you are released on bond, the district attorney has 90 days to file an indictment or bill of information for a misdemeanor. They have 150 days to file paperwork on a felony.

If the district attorney does not initiate prosecution within the designated time frame, they must release you from jail. They can only continue to hold you if the government shows a reason for their delay.

Arraignment

Once the District Attorney files charges an arraignment takes place. You and your attorney will appear in court and enter a formal plea, which is usually “not guilty.” 

Plea Bargain

While a case is pending the district attorney and your attorney will likely engage in negotiations for a plea bargain. The goal is to reach an agreement that is acceptable to you, your attorney, the district attorney, and the court.

Plea agreements are reached when a reduction or dismissal in charges is made or the parties agree to a lesser sentence. This resolves the matter without the need to have a full trial.

Trial

If your attorney is not able to negotiate an acceptable plea agreement, the court will set the matter for trial. When charges are for misdemeanor assault, a judge will conduct the trial. If your charges are for a felony, the trial may be before a judge or jury.

When a trial is heard solely by a judge, the judge decides all matters of law and fact, and whether you are innocent or guilty of the crime.

If a trial is before a jury, the judge determines all matters of law, and the jury decides matters of fact, including whether you are innocent or guilty of the crime.

Right to Speedy Trial

You have the right to a speedy trial, and the countdown begins on the day the district attorney files the indictment or bill of information. If your charges are for a capital offense the trial must be held within three years. If the charges are for a felony the trial must be held within two years, and for a misdemeanor within one year.

Sentencing

When you take a plea bargain or are convicted by a judge or jury, sentencing sets forth the terms of your fines, probation, or incarceration. If a plea bargain enters the sentence it is sometimes pre-arranged with the district attorney and judge prior to the entry of the plea. Sentencing is based on the current conviction and your criminal record.

Assault, also referred to as simple assault, is a misdemeanor. The sentence on this charge is up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $200 pursuant to LA Code RS 14:38

Aggravated assault is a criminal offense that includes a dangerous weapon. This charge has a sentence of up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. The exception is if the assault is against an employee of a retail business during the commitment of robbery or attempted robbery, the minimum sentence is 120 days to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000 pursuant to LA Code RS 14:37.

Aggravated assault with a firearm includes the discharge of a weapon. This is a felony charge with sentencing up to 5 years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000 pursuant to LA Code RS 14:37.4

When to Hire an Attorney

If you or a loved one are arrested on assault charges you need to contact an attorney immediately. Assault charges carry severe penalties and negotiating the court system is challenging. A criminal defense attorney will be familiar with the law, criminal process, and will negotiate the best plea bargain possible or go to trial with you.

Many people wait to see what will happen, hoping the problem will go away because they are innocent. Do not make this life-altering mistake. Whether you are guilty or innocent, we will fight to achieve the best outcome possible on your behalf.

Call the Barkemeyer Law Firm today. With offices in New Orleans (504) 226-2299 and Covington (985) 888-0009 we can handle your case in New Orleans, Jefferson, or the surrounding area.  You can also contact us online to schedule a consultation. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.