Is scratching someone assault?

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Scratching someone can constitute the crime of assault under Tennessee law, particularly if it leads to marks or cuts on the victim. The general Tennessee law for assault, codified at Tenn. Code Ann. §39-13-101, defines assault as follows: 

(a) A person commits the crime of assault who:

(1) Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another; 
(2) Intentionally or knowingly causes another to reasonably fear imminent bodily injury; or 
(3) Intentionally or knowingly causes physical contact with another and a reasonable person would regard the contact as extremely offensive or provocative. 

Scratching someone could constitute an assault if it leads to what Tennessee law defines as “bodily injury.”   Tennessee law defines bodily injury quite broadly to include “a cut, abrasion, bruise, burn or disfigurement; physical pain or temporary illness or impairment of the function of bodily member, organ, or mental faculty.”  Tenn. Code Ann. §39-11-106(a)(2). If the state proves that the victim suffered a cut or even temporary pain from the scratching, then a jury – or a judge during a bench trial – could convict the defendant of assault under Tennessee law.  

If charged with assault under Tenn. Code Ann. §39-13-101, you could face a criminal penalty that could include up to a sentence of 11 months and 29 days in jail. The crime of assault is a serious crime. You need an experienced criminal defense attorney to help defend you from these charges.   

If you are charged with the crime of assault, contact experienced criminal defense attorney Philip Clark at PNC Law.   

Connect with Philip N. Clark right away!
(615) 785-2000