The Slap Seen ‘Round the World at the Oscars
During the 94th Annual Academy Awards on March 27, 2022, Will Smith slapped Chris Rock onstage after the comedian made a joke about the actor’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, which left the audience and millions of viewers stunned.
Although Smith’s actions did not result in any injury, legal experts say that the slap was clearly a crime. However, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) decided not to investigate the matter since Rock declined to file a police report.
In addition, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office—which prosecutes misdemeanor offenses—said it could not bring charges without a police referral. But if city prosecutors did decide to take the case, Smith would have faced a misdemeanor battery charge, punishable by a maximum jail sentence of six months in California.
Understanding Assault Charges in Connecticut
While California law defines “assault and battery” as separate offenses – with assault meaning attempted violence and battery meaning the violence itself. Yet, a battery offense falls under the umbrella of assault charges in Connecticut.
Assault is charged at different levels based on the defendant’s intent, the amount of harm caused, the type of victim, and whether a weapon was involved. There are three degrees of assault: first-degree, second-degree, and third-degree assault.
The following is a breakdown of the assault charges in Connecticut:
First-degree assault – Considered the most serious assault-related offense, a person commits first-degree assault if he/she intentionally inflicts serious injury on someone else using a deadly weapon or dangerous object, causes serious injury by firing a gun with the intent to cause physical injury, inflicts serious injury on another individual with the intent to disfigure or permanently injure, acts with reckless disregard for human life and causes serious injury to someone else, or intentionally causes serious injury to another person with the help of at least two other individuals. This assault charge is a Class B felony, punishable by imprisonment between five and 20 years, as well as a maximum fine of $15,000.
Second-degree assault – A person commits second-degree assault by intentionally causing serious injury, having the intent to cause serious injury with a deadly weapon other than a gun, recklessly causing serious injury with a deadly weapon or dangerous object, or intentionally drugging someone without the individual’s consent. This assault charge is a Class D felony, which carries a maximum prison term of five years and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
Third-degree assault – A person commits third-degree assault by intentionally causing physical injury, recklessly causing serious injury, or causing serious injury with a deadly weapon with criminal negligence. This assault charge is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment of up to one year and/or a maximum fine of $2,000.