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How Do Coronavirus Mask Policies Affect Assault Charges in New York?

 Posted on August 28, 2020 in Criminal Defense

New York County criminal defense attorney assault

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, unique cases of assault have escalated, such as assault against someone who is enforcing mask and distancing policies. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has admitted that even though a mask order has been in place since April, the police will not fine or arrest anyone for not complying. However, New York assault laws apply when someone assaults an employee for trying to enforce mask policies. If you are charged with assault, it is important to understand how the law will apply to you and what options you have when presenting a defense with the help of a skilled criminal law attorney.

Assaults Related to Mask Wearing

Since the police cannot enforce mask policies, retail workers have been the ones to require that customers wear a mask or be denied service. Some of the cases where customers fight back have been striking. A target employee wound up with a broken left arm after denying two customers who refused to wear masks. A man in San Antonio who was barred from boarding a public bus for not wearing a mask shot another passenger. Cases have ranged from verbal outbreaks to physical altercations to gunfire, all of which can have different ramifications under New York assault laws. 

Possible Defense Strategies

Even though the circumstances leading to mask-wearing assaults are unique, the principles underlying a successful defense against assault charges remain the same. Common focuses for any defendant and attorney preparing a defense strategy are:

  • Lack of injury: If a verbal argument or a minor physical altercation does not result in any injuries, a defendant can use that to advocate for the prosecution to drop charges.

  • Lack of intent: If a defendant can prove that he or she had no intention to cause physical harm to a victim, that can be used to fight for his or her innocence.

  • Self-defense: If there is evidence that someone assaulted you first, then injuries that you inflicted can be categorized as self-defense.

In New York City, assault is broken into four categories:

  • Third Degree Assault: Class A misdemeanor

  • Aggravated Assault on minor under age 11 by an adult: Class E felony

  • Second Degree Assault: Class D felony

  • First Degree Assault or Aggravated Assault on a Peace Officer: Class B violent felonies

Most assaults stemming from mask-policy disputes will fall under Third Degree Assault, which is a misdemeanor that could result in up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

Contact a New York City Criminal Defense Attorney

The penalties for assault in New York can be severe. Even if you are convinced that you acted out of self-defense, do not leave the outcome of your case to chance. Increase the likelihood of decreasing or dropping charges and work with a Bronx assault defense lawyer who has a thorough understanding of criminal law. Attorney Gregory Watford has years of experience helping clients present strong, aggressive defenses with a proven record of getting their charges dropped. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 646-580-6675.




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