Alabama Assault Crimes – Capital Murder

Assault charges cover various different crimes.  Some are misdemeanors other are Class A Felonies.  They will be covered from the least to most serious.

Menacing

Menacing is a Class B Misdemeanor and is defined as;

  • If a person, by physical action, he intentionally places or attempts to place another person in fear of imminent serious physical injury.

Reckless Endangerment

Reckless Endangerment is a Class A Misdemeanor and is defined as:

  • A person commits the crime of reckless endangerment if he recklessly engages in conduct which creates a substantial risk of serious physical injury to another person.

Assault

Assault is divided into three different classes called Degrees, each with its own definition and range of punishment.

Assault 3rd Degree is a Class A Misdemeanor and is defined as:

  • A person commits the crime of assault in the third degree if:
  • With intent to cause physical injury to another person, he causes physical injury to any person; or
  • He recklessly causes physical injury to another person; or
  • With criminal negligence he causes physical injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument; or
  • With intent to prevent a peace officer from performing a lawful duty, he causes physical injury to any person.

Assault 2nd Degree is a Class C Felony and is defined as:

  • A person commits the crime of assault in the second degree if the person does any of the following:
  • With intent to cause serious physical injury to another person, he or she causes serious physical injury to any person.
  • With intent to cause physical injury to another person, he or she causes physical injury to any person by means of a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument.
  • He or she recklessly causes serious physical injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument.
  • With intent to prevent a peace officer, as defined in Section 36-21-60, a detention or correctional officer at any municipal or county jail or state penitentiary, emergency medical personnel, a utility worker, or a firefighter from performing a lawful duty, he or she intends to cause physical injury and he or she causes physical injury to any person. For the purpose of this subdivision, a person who is a peace officer who is employed or under contract while off duty by a private or public entity is a peace officer performing a lawful duty when the person is working in his or her approved uniform while off duty with the approval of his or her employing law enforcement agency.
  • With intent to cause physical injury to a teacher or to an employee of a public educational institution during or as a result of the performance of his or her duty, he or she causes physical injury to any person.
  • With intent to cause physical injury to a health care worker, including a nurse, physician, technician, or any other person employed by or practicing at a hospital; a county or district health department; a long-term care facility; or a physician’s office, clinic, or outpatient treatment facility during the course of or as a result of the performance of the duties of the health care worker or other person employed by or practicing at the hospital; the county or district health department; any health care facility owned or operated by the State of Alabama; the long-term care facility; or the physician’s office, clinic, or outpatient treatment facility; he or she causes physical injury to any person. This subdivision shall not apply to assaults by patients who are impaired by medication or to assaults on home health care workers while they are in private residences.
  • For a purpose other than lawful medical or therapeutic treatment, he or she intentionally causes stupor, unconsciousness, or other physical or mental impairment or injury to another person by administering to him or her, without his or her consent, a drug, substance or preparation capable of producing the intended harm.

Assault 1st Degree is a Class B Felony and is defined as:

  • A person commits the crime of assault in the first degree if:
  • With intent to cause serious physical injury to another person, he causes serious physical injury to any person by means of a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument; or
  • With intent to disfigure another person seriously and permanently, or to destroy, amputate or disable permanently a member or organ of his body, he causes such an injury to any person; or
  • Under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, he recklessly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to another person, and thereby causes serious physical injury to any person; or
  • In the course of and in furtherance of the commission or attempted commission of arson in the first degree, burglary in the first or second degree, escape in the first degree, kidnapping in the first degree, rape in the first degree, robbery in any degree, sodomy in the first degree or any other felony clearly dangerous to human life, or of immediate flight therefrom, he causes a serious physical injury to another person; or
  • While driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance or any combination thereof in violation of DUI statute, he causes serious bodily injury to the person of another with a motor vehicle.

Criminally Negligent Homicide

Criminally negligent homicide is a Class A misdemeanor, except in cases in which said criminally negligent homicide is caused by the driver of a motor vehicle who is driving in violation of the provisions of DUI statue; in such cases criminally negligent homicide is a Class C felony and is defined as:

  • A person commits the crime of criminally negligent homicide if he causes the death of another person by criminal negligence.
  • The jury may consider statutes and ordinances regulating the actor’s conduct in determining whether he is culpably negligent under subsection (a) of this section.

Manslaughter

Manslaughter is a Class B Felony and is defined as;

  • A person commits the crime of manslaughter if:
  • He recklessly causes the death of another person, or
  • He causes the death of another person under circumstances that would constitute Murder; except, that he causes the death due to a sudden heat of passion caused by provocation recognized by law, and before a reasonable time for the passion to cool and for reason to reassert itself.

Murder

Murder is a Class A Felony as defined as:

  • A person commits the crime of murder if he or she does any of the following:
  • With intent to cause the death of another person, he or she causes the death of that person or of another person.
  • Under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to human life, he or she recklessly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to a person other than himself or herself, and thereby causes the death of another person.
  • He or she commits or attempts to commit arson in the first degree, burglary in the first or second degree, escape in the first degree, kidnapping in the first degree, rape in the first degree, robbery in any degree, sodomy in the first degree, any other felony clearly dangerous to human life and, in the course of and in furtherance of the crime that he or she is committing or attempting to commit, or in immediate flight therefrom, he or she, or another participant if there be any, causes the death of any person.
  • He or she commits the crime of arson and a qualified governmental or volunteer firefighter or other public safety officer dies while performing his or her duty resulting from the arson.

Capital Murder

Capital Murder has only one of two penalties, Life Imprisonment without being eligible for Parole or the Death Penalty and is defined as one of the following:

  • Murder by the defendant during a kidnapping in the first degree or an attempt thereof committed by the defendant.
  • Murder by the defendant during a robbery in the first degree or an attempt thereof committed by the defendant.
  • Murder by the defendant during a rape in the first or second degree or an attempt thereof committed by the defendant; or murder by the defendant during sodomy in the first or second degree or an attempt thereof committed by the defendant.
  • Murder by the defendant during a burglary in the first or second degree or an attempt thereof committed by the defendant.
  • Murder of any police officer, sheriff, deputy, state trooper, federal law enforcement officer, or any other state or federal peace officer of any kind, or prison or jail guard, while such officer or guard is on duty, regardless of whether the defendant knew or should have known the victim was an officer or guard on duty, or because of some official or job-related act or performance of such officer or guard.
  • Murder committed while the defendant is under sentence of life imprisonment.
  • Murder done for a pecuniary or other valuable consideration or pursuant to a contract or for hire.
  • Murder by the defendant during sexual abuse in the first or second degree or an attempt thereof committed by the defendant.
  • Murder by the defendant during arson in the first or second degree committed by the defendant; or murder by the defendant by means of explosives or explosion.
  • Murder wherein two or more persons are murdered by the defendant by one-act or pursuant to one scheme or course of conduct.
  • Murder by the defendant when the victim is a state or federal public official or former public official and the murder stems from or is caused by or is related to his official position, act, or capacity.
  • Murder by the defendant during the act of unlawfully assuming control of any aircraft by use of threats or force with intent to obtain any valuable consideration for the release of said aircraft or any passenger or crewmen thereon or to direct the route or movement of said aircraft, or otherwise exert control over said aircraft.
  • Murder by a defendant who has been convicted of any other murder in the 20 years preceding the crime; provided that the murder which constitutes the capital crime shall be murder as defined in subsection (b) of this section; and provided further that the prior murder conviction referred to shall include murder in any degree as defined at the time and place of the prior conviction.
  • Murder when the victim is subpoenaed, or has been subpoenaed, to testify, or the victim had testified, in any preliminary hearing, grand jury proceeding, criminal trial or criminal proceeding of whatever nature, or civil trial or civil proceeding of whatever nature, in any municipal, state, or federal court, when the murder stems from, is caused by, or is related to the capacity or role of the victim as a witness.
  • Murder when the victim is less than fourteen years of age.
  • Murder committed by or through the use of a deadly weapon fired or otherwise used from outside a dwelling while the victim is in a dwelling.
  • Murder committed by or through the use of a deadly weapon while the victim is in a vehicle.
  • Murder committed by or through the use of a deadly weapon fired or otherwise used within or from a vehicle.

A defendant who does not personally commit the act of killing which constitutes the murder is not guilty of a capital offense defined in subsection (a) of this section unless that defendant is legally accountable for the murder because of complicity in the murder itself under the provisions of Section 13A-2-23, in addition to being guilty of the other elements of the capital offense as defined in subsection (a) of this section.

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