Third degree assault is a type of criminal charge. A person may be charged with this crime if he causes bodily harm to another person either on purpose or because of reckless acts. The exact laws related to this charge vary, depending on the jurisdiction in which the crime is committed. A person may be charged with this crime if he hurts someone due to his own negligence or even by accident.
A person may be charged with assault if he physically attacks another party. He may even be charged with assault if he merely threatens another person as long as he seems capable of causing physical harm. Many jurisdictions have laws regarding when a threat is considered physical assault. In most cases, the victim of the threat must have felt fearful of an immediate attack.
To understand the difference between a threat that causes fear of immediate harm and one that does not, consider a person who threatens another with a shovel. If the party has a shovel in his hands and tells another person he’s going to hit him with it, that could be considered an immediate threat. If he says he’s going to go and find a shovel and then come back to the person to hit him, that may not be considered assault. In some places, it would still be considered a crime, however. It would just be a different type of crime.
In many places, assault in the third degree is classified as a misdemeanor, which is a more minor offense than a felony. In fact, in many jurisdictions, this is the only assault charge that is considered a misdemeanor. Second- and first-degree assault charges are often considered felonies and carry stiffer penalties.
Depending on the jurisdiction in which a person is charged with assault, third degree assault may be called an extraordinary risk crime. This designation, which means there is an extraordinary risk of harm, increases the penalty for those who are convicted. For example, in some jurisdictions, the fact that third degree assault is an extraordinary risk crime adds six months onto the sentence for the misdemeanor.
Often, the third degree assault charge is given in crimes in which there is no obvious physical harm. Such situations may occur as the result of minor altercations or domestic disputes. For example, one spouse may accuse the other of hitting or pushing him. Even in the absence of cuts or bruises, he may say that the hit or push caused him pain. This report of pain may be enough to warrant a third degree assault charge.