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Differences between assault and reckless endangerment

Assault, battery and reckless endangerment are all often used interchangeably. However, there are stark differences between all three charges, and those differences ultimately impact the kind of defense required.

Violence charges of any kind always carry hefty charges. At a minimum, a person will face Class A misdemeanor charges for simple assault, but the penalties only become more severe from there.


By Tennessee law, assault consists of the act of intentionally, recklessly or knowingly causing bodily harm to another individual. However, assault can also consist of instilling fear into someone that bodily harm is imminent.

Aggravated assault

Aggravated assault is a much more serious crime and will come with felony charges. This form of assault occurs when serious bodily injury occurs to another or when the person carries out the act with a weapon. Most courts differentiate between “bodily injury” and “serious bodily injury” based on whether the injuries presented a significant likelihood of death. Serious bodily injury can also involve wounds that result in a disability.

Reckless endangerment

Reckless endangerment involves engaging in behavior that could potentially cause bodily harm. This is a misdemeanor crime, but if the endangerment involves a weapon of some kind, then it would upgrade to a felony charge. There are different types of reckless endangerment. There is public endangerment, which involves actions that put the general public in harm’s way. There is also animal and child endangerment, which involves putting animals or children into harmful situations. This can include negligence in addition to misconduct. For example, leaving a child in a locked car on a hot day would qualify as child endangerment.

For any of these charges, the final decision ultimately comes down to the prosecutor proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that the crime took place. This is an incredibly high standard to meet, so the defendant should contact an attorney right away to start building a case.

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Knoxville Criminal Defense Lawyer | DUI Law Firm | TN

Knoxville Criminal Defense Lawyer | DUI Law Firm | TN

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