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Assault In The Third Degree - NYPL § 120

Accused of Assault in the Third Degree? Call Our Firm for Legal Help.

Assault in the Third Degree, as defined under New York law, is a serious criminal offense with potentially life-altering consequences. This charge can result from intentionally or recklessly causing physical injury to another person or acting with criminal negligence. When individuals find themselves facing allegations of Assault in the Third Degree in Manhattan, it becomes imperative to understand both the intricacies of this offense and the critical role a skilled New York assault lawyer can play in navigating the legal complexities.

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Contact Lebedin Kofman LLP today at (646) 663-4430 to schedule a consultation.

Case Example

Maria Rodriguez was engaged in a heated argument with her ex-boyfriend, Carlos Martinez, outside a crowded nightclub in New York City. During the argument, emotions ran high, and Maria became enraged. In a fit of anger, she picked up a glass bottle from a nearby table and threw it at Carlos, striking him in the head. The bottle shattered on impact, causing Carlos to bleed profusely and resulting in a deep laceration requiring stitches.

In this case, the prosecution could charge Maria Rodriguez with Assault in the Third Degree under NYPL § 120(2) (Reckless Physical Injury). Maria’s actions of throwing a glass bottle at Carlos, especially in the crowded nightclub environment, can be seen as reckless conduct. She displayed an extreme disregard for the safety of others by using a dangerous object in the heat of the argument. In addition, Carlos Martinez sustained a significant injury, including a deep laceration that required medical attention, which meets the requirement of physical injury.

It’s important to note that Maria’s actions in this case were reckless rather than intentional. While she may not have specifically intended to cause such a severe injury, her reckless behavior led to the physical harm suffered by Carlos, making her liable under NYPL § 120(2).

Elements and Definitions of Assault in the Third Degree (NYPL § 120)

A person can be charged with Assault in the Third Degree if:

  • They intentionally caused physical harm or injury to another person.
  • They recklessly caused physical injury to another person.
  • They injure a third party while intending to injure another person.
  • With criminal negligence, they cause injury to another person using a deadly weapon or instrument

Assault in the third degree is a Class A misdemeanor in New York.

“Physical injury” under this definition does not require the level of harm caused to be severe but rather an “impairment of physical condition or substantial pain”.

“Criminal negligence” means conduct that contributes to the risk of substantial and unjustifiable risk that physical injury will occur to another with a deadly weapon or instrument. The requirement for criminal negligence is not equal to the standard used in civil lawsuits for compensation. In this context, criminal negligence is seen as a failure to recognize a risk such that it is a departure or unusual from what is considered deviant to the community’s perception of right and wrong.

“Recklessness”, is different from criminal negligence in that the person recognizes the risk of injury but the person continues to engage in the risky conduct and consciously disregards the risk. 

A “deadly weapon or instrument” refers to an instrument, article, or substance (including vehicles) that, depending on the manner it is used, is capable of inflicting serious physical injury or death to another person.

Last but not least, “intent” in this context means the conscious objective or purpose to cause physical harm and injury to another person.

Three Ways Assault in the Third Degree Can Be Committed in New YorkDefinition
IntentionallyA person causes injury with the intent to harm. The objective or purpose is to cause injury. Injury can occur even if the wrong person is harmed.
RecklesslyA person recklessly causes physical injury to another. They engage in conduct with unjustifiable risk, are aware of the risks but disregard them, and their behavior deviates from what a reasonable person would do.
With Criminal NegligenceA person negligently causes injury using a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument. This involves the use of deadly weapons such as, but not limited to, firearms, switchblades, metal knuckles, daggers, and billy clubs.

How to Beat a 3rd Degree Assault Charge

If you’re facing a charge of assault in the third degree in New York, understanding your legal defenses is crucial. One of the most compelling defenses in such cases is proving you acted in self-defense. Under New York law, you are allowed to use reasonable force to protect yourself or another person from what you perceive as an imminent threat of physical harm.

To successfully argue self-defense, you need to demonstrate that your belief of imminent danger was reasonable given the circumstances. This means that your perception of the threat and your response should align with what any reasonable person would believe and do under the same circumstances.

Here are some steps to strengthen your self-defense claim:

  • Evidence: Gather any physical evidence and eyewitness accounts that support your version of events. Photos, videos, and credible witness testimonies can be crucial.
  • Consistency: Make sure your account of the incident remains consistent over time. Inconsistencies can weaken the credibility of your self-defense claim.
  • Proportionality: Show that your use of force was proportional to the threat. The force used should not exceed what would be considered necessary to prevent the danger.
  • Legal Assistance: Consult with an experienced assault lawyer. A knowledgeable attorney can effectively present your defense and handle the complexities of the legal system.

By proving that you acted out of a reasonable belief that you were in imminent danger, you can establish a strong self-defense case, potentially leading to a dismissal of the charge against you.


When facing charges of Assault in the Third Degree, several legal defenses may be applicable, including:

One possible defense against Assault in the Third Degree in New York is to challenge the level of the physical injury inflicted. The key element in this offense is that the injury must meet a certain threshold of injury to warrant a charge under NYPL § 120. While it isn’t necessary to prove that the injury was severe to prove charges of Third-Degree Assault, the injury must be more substantial than a complaint and must be substantiated by evidence. If the defendant can demonstrate that the injury does not meet this threshold, it may serve as a defense.

Under self-defense principles, a defendant may argue that they acted to protect themselves or others from imminent harm, which can justify the use of force, even if it results in physical injury to another person.

To successfully assert self-defense as a defense, the defendant must typically show:

  • They reasonably believed that they or someone else was in immediate danger of physical harm or death.
  • Their use of force was necessary to protect themselves or others from that danger.
  • The force used was proportionate to the perceived threat.

It’s important to note that self-defense must be supported by credible evidence and a reasonable belief in the need for self-protection. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help build a strong self-defense case by presenting the facts and circumstances that demonstrate the defendant’s reasonable fear of harm.

A possible defense that could be used against charges of healthcare fraud is a lack of knowledge. The law does not intend to punish cases of human error and a person who displays a lack of knowledge or intent to defraud a healthcare provider may be able to use this defense. Being coerced into committing fraud can also be a possible defense. 

In addition, according to New York Penal Law § 177.30, an employee or bookkeeper may also not be prosecuted for healthcare fraud if they were only following the instructions of their employer.

These defenses, based on the severity of physical injury and self-defense, can be crucial strategies for individuals facing charges of Assault in the Third Degree in New York. It’s essential to consult with an attorney who can assess the specific facts of the case and determine the most effective defense strategy based on the circumstances.


Assault in the Third Degree is classified as a class A misdemeanor in New York. The potential penalties for this offense can include a jail sentence of up to one year. In addition, instead of jail time, the court may impose probation of up to three years, during which the defendant must comply with certain conditions. The court may also impose fines as part of the sentence and the defendant may also be required to compensate the victim for medical expenses and other losses.

Assault in the Third Degree (NYPL § 120)

A person is guilty of assault in the third degree when:

  1. With intent to cause physical injury to another person, he causes such injury to such person or to a third person; or
  2. He recklessly causes physical injury to another person; or
  3. With criminal negligence, he causes physical injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument.

Assault in the third degree is a class A misdemeanor.

Getting the Help of a Skilled Manhattan Third-Degree Assault Attorney from Lebedin Kofman LLP

When faced with charges of Assault in the Third Degree in Manhattan, securing the services of a skilled attorney is essential to safeguard your rights and pursue the best possible outcome. At Lebedin Kofman LLP, our experienced Manhattan Third-Degree Assault attorneys are committed to providing unwavering legal advocacy.

Our team understands the nuances of New York’s legal system and the complexities of Assault in the Third Degree cases. We work tirelessly to examine every aspect of the case. With a deep understanding of the law and a dedication to protecting our clients’ rights, we craft robust defense strategies tailored to each individual’s unique circumstances.

We believe that every person is entitled to a strong defense, and we strive to ensure that our clients receive fair treatment under the law. From the initial consultation to the resolution of the case, our Manhattan Third-Degree Assault attorneys provide comprehensive legal representation, guiding clients through the legal process and fighting vigorously to achieve the best possible outcome.

If you or someone you know is facing charges of Assault in the Third Degree in Manhattan, don’t navigate the legal complexities alone.

Call Lebedin Kofman LLP at (646) 663-4430 today to schedule a free consultation. Let us stand by your side and provide the skilled legal defense you deserve. Serving multiple locations in Manhattan and Nassau County, Long Island.

New York City Third Degree Assault Lawyers - Assault in NYC

At Lebedin Kofman LLP, our team is ready to defend against your third-degree assault charges in New York. Although an assault is usually classified as a misdemeanor, that does not mean it is not serious. An assault conviction can still result in jail time and/or fines. Additionally, it can have repercussions that affect you for the rest of your life. As such, it is beneficial to have one of our attorneys handle your case. We can walk you through the criminal justice process, explain the charge, and discuss your legal options. We can leverage our knowledge and resources to seek an optimal outcome on your behalf.

Our New York third-degree assault attorneys provide high-quality legal representation. Because we are a boutique law firm, we can give each client the care and attention they deserve. When you turn to us, you will have direct access to one of our New York City assault attorneys, and your case will not be handed over to a paralegal. That said, we operate as a team and will share insights to build a comprehensive defense strategy on your behalf. Understanding that you may have many questions about your case, we will be available 24/7 to address your concerns.

Are you ready to get started on your defense? Call us at (646) 663-4430 or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation with an experienced New York City lawyer.

What Constitutes Assault In The Third Degree In New York?

The elements of third-degree assault are enumerated in New York Penal Code § 120.00. The statute provides that an offense is committed when a person causes physical injury to another. Physical injury is defined as impairing the physical condition of someone else or causing them substantial pain.

The law is further separated into three different states of mind the actor may have been in when engaging in the prohibited conduct.

The three ways assault in the third degree can be committed in New York are as follows:

  1. Intentionally. A person might be accused of violating the assault law if they intended to injure another person and did so. To act with intent means that the end result (causing injury) was the person’s objective or purpose. Note that the person injured need not have been the individual the actor intended to harm for charges to arise. In other words, a person may still be accused of a violation if they meant to hurt Person A but hurt Person B instead.
  2. Recklessly. A person commits an offense when they recklessly cause physical injury to another. To act recklessly means to have engaged in conduct that places others at an unjustifiable risk of harm. When carrying out the action, the person was aware of the possible results of their behavior and continued to do it regardless of the risks. The risk involved must have been such that it deviated from the conduct a reasonable person would have engaged in under similar circumstances.
  3. With criminal negligence. Charges for assault in the third degree may arise when someone, with criminal negligence, causes injury to another by use of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument. Deadly weapons include, but are not limited to:
    • Firearms
    • Switchblades
    • Metal knuckles
    • Daggers
    • Billy clubs

Dangerous instruments are any items that, when handled in the manner used in the assaultive offense, could cause serious injury or death. For example, a bat, hammer, or car may be considered dangerous instruments.

A person acts with criminal negligence when they do something that places others at risk of physical injury, but they do not perceive that risk. Still, anyone with a general sense of right and wrong would have been aware of the seriousness of the actions.

Whether you have been accused of injuring someone intentionally, recklessly, or with criminal intent, our New York criminal defense lawyers are here to help you through your case. Multiple sides to every story exist, and we want to hear yours.

What Is The Sentence For Assault In The Third Degree In NYC?

Third-degree assault is a class A misdemeanor.

This level of crime is punishable by:

  • Not more than 364 days in jail and/or
  • Up to $1,000 in fines

The penalties listed above are the maximums that can be doled out for a conviction. However, depending on the situation, it may be possible to reduce or avoid penalties by casting doubt on the prosecutor’s case or demonstrating that mitigating factors were present.

Allow our criminal defense attorneys in New York to evaluate your case and determine a path forward.

Possible Defense to a Third-Degree Assault

Self-defense in New York is called justification. Justification or self-defense can be defined as the defense of oneself or another person. A defense attorney can raise justification to counter the assault charge when a person is accused of it. Justification can, however, be referred to as an affirmative defense. This means that the prosecution has to prove justification by proving the preponderance or absence of evidence. This standard is lower than proof beyond reasonable doubt and the prosecutor has to prove it at trial.

In order to claim justification, the person charged with Assault cannot be the initial aggressor. The person cannot use force so far beyond the scope of the original attack. An experienced defense attorney might be able to convince a prosecutor not to bring up the issue of justification when the defendant is facing assault charges. Each case is unique and each case depends on a different set of facts.

Orders of Protection Related to a New York City Assault

When a person has been charged with assault, the District Attorney will request an Order of Protection. These orders are almost always granted by a Judge. This is especially true for cases involving alleged Domestic Violence, or where the accused and the complaining witnesses know each other. The Order of Protection makes it mandatory that a person is away from the complaining witness. It also prohibits any type of contact. The Order of Protection may also be part of a disposition.

An Order of Protection for Assault in The Third Degree will continue in effect up to 5 years after conviction. A person convicted of Harassment, Second Degree, or Disorderly Conduct will be subject to the Order of Protection for 2 years. An ACD is an Adjournment of Contemplation of Dismissal. This means that the Order of Protection will continue to be in force for 6 months starting from the date of the ACD’s acceptance. If the Assault charge is connected to Domestic Violence, the Order of Protection will apply for 12 months starting from the date of acceptance.

Is Third-Degree Assault A Serious Offense In New York City?

Third-degree assault is the lowest of New York’s three levels of assault. Second-degree is considered more serious, and first-degree is regarded as the most severe.

Even though there are two crimes above it, third-degree assault is still a serious offense itself. As noted before, it’s a misdemeanor that can lead to jail time and/or a fine. These penalties can negatively affect you personally, professionally, and financially.

Additionally, if you are convicted of the offense, that information will appear on your criminal record. Thus, anytime a potential employer, landlord, or curious individual wants to check up on your history, they will see that you were found guilty of assault. That could cause them to make swift and adverse judgments about you. Therefore, you could be feeling the effects of the conviction long after you completed your sentence. And while New York allows you to seal your criminal record if you have no more than two convictions on it, you must wait 10 years after completing your sentence to pursue this remedy and the process for doing so can be complicated.

A serious criminal charge requires a serious criminal defense attorney, and our team is ready to deliver the representation you need.

Speak With a Criminal Defense Lawyer at Lebedin Kofman LLP Today

At Lebedin Kofman LLP, our third-degree assault attorneys will stand up for you in and out of court. We have exceptional negotiation and litigation skills and can use them to your advantage.

Learn about how we can build a solid defense for your New York assault charges by contacting us at (646) 663-4430 today. We offer a free initial consultation.

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Third-Degree Assault in New York City

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In New York, assault in the third degree is the lowest level of assault. A second-degree assault is considered more serious than a third-degree assault, and a first-degree assault is considered the most severe. 

Third-degree assault, even though it is a lesser crime than the other two, is still a serious offense. It’s a misdemeanor, which means that being convicted can result in jail time or a fine. These penalties can have a negative impact on your professional and personal life.

If you are convicted, the information will be added to your criminal record. Any potential landlord or employer looking into your past will be able to see it. This could lead to them making quick and negative judgments about your character. Thus, you may feel the consequences of your conviction even after you have completed your sentence. While the state of  New York will allow you to erase your criminal record, this can only happen 10 years after you have completed your sentence and the process of doing so can be complex.

Penalties, fees, and restitution

New York law requires you to pay certain fees when you’re convicted. In the case of an assault, you may have to pay a $1,000 fine as part of your sentence if you are convicted. You will also need to pay a $25-$300 mandatory surcharge if you are convicted of a misdemeanor and a $25 victim assistance fee. 

Your sentence may also include a requirement to pay restitution. In general, the maximum amount of restitution in New York is $15,000. To cover medical costs, however, the court may order that the amount should be increased.

In the event that you don’t pay any fees, fines, or restitution due, you could face a misdemeanor charge and be sent to jail for up to one year. Your wages may also be garnished or the state of New York might obtain a judgment against you. Based on your financial status, the court can reduce or modify the fee, fine, or restitution that you must pay.

Facing assault charges of any degree can have a significant impact on a person’s life. The penalties can be costly and can affect a lot of aspects of your life. It is crucial to seek the help of an experienced attorney right away when facing an assault charge. A skilled assault attorney can assist you and provide the legal support you need to protect your rights and freedom. 

At Lebedin Kofman LLP, our team of NY defense attorneys has years of experience in handling assault cases. We may be able to help you create a strong defense strategy against the alleged crimes you are being charged with. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with our New York assault defense lawyers.  

Possible Defenses for New York Assault Cases

These are common defenses against Assault Charges in New York:

  • Lack of intent – A common defense in assault cases involves proving that the accused did not intend to assault the other party. If someone is charged with intentional assault but the conduct was reckless, then the charge could be dropped.
  • The extent of injuries – The terms “physical injury” and “serious bodily injury” have very specific meanings. Your attorney can request a copy of the victim’s hospital records and medical treatment records to be reviewed. Your defense attorney can also file a motion to dismiss charges if the records do not show what constitutes “physical injury” and “serious injury”.

Let’s take, for example, the charge of Assault in the Second Degree for punching another person without the use of any weapons, but the injury is described as pain and swelling to one’s face. The medical records show that the charge of Assault In the Second Degree is too high. Thus, your attorney can move to dismiss the Assault in Second Degree charge. In these circumstances, the appropriate charge would be Assault in the Third Degree.

If you are being charged with assault or attempted assault in the third degree in NY, it is important to seek the help of an experienced New York City assault defense lawyer. A skilled lawyer for criminal defense is well-versed when it comes to the NY Penal Law and may be able to help you protect your rights and freedom. 

To schedule a free consultation with the skilled New York criminal defense attorneys at Lebedin Kofman LLP, contact (646) 663-4430.

Dropped Charges Vs. Dismissed Case in NY

It is common to use the terms “dismissed” and “dropped charges” interchangeably. While both can be considered favorable outcomes from the defendant’s standpoint, they are subject to different legal considerations when it comes to timing in New York.

The District Attorney cannot dismiss a case against a defendant unless a charge has been filed. However, a charge can be dropped either before or after a case has been filed. In other words, a charge can be dropped before trial in New York City.

Alternatively, it’s possible to file no charges. In this case, the D.A. decides not to file a lawsuit after an arrest. This scenario is usually the most ideal outcome for people who have been arrested in New York City. 

An experienced New York criminal defense attorney can help you to increase the chances of your case being dismissed, dropped, or not filed. Attorney for criminal defense Russ Kofman is experienced in fighting for the rights of those who are charged with an assault or attempted assault. If you are looking for a top-rated New York criminal defense lawyer, contact Lebedin Kofman LLP today. 

Experienced NY Criminal Defense Attorney at Lebedin Kofman LLP

Whether you did not intend to cause physical injury, or you accidentally struck someone, do not hesitate to let our firm fight for you from start to finish. We provide each of our clients with attentive and personalized legal representation to ensure we get the best possible outcome in your case.

Contact us today at (646) 663-4430 to discuss your case with our New York attempted assault lawyers! Our skilled NY attorneys may be able to help you protect your rights and your freedom if you are facing New York assault charges. Serving clients in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Staten Island, and Nassau County.

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