What is an assault on a federal officer?

18 USC § 111 makes it a crime to assault a federal agent. Surprisingly, this law creates three different crimes. They are:

  1. Simple Assault;
  2. Serious Assault without a weapon; and
  3. Serious Assault with a dangerous or deadly weapon.

Chiefly, these crimes turn on two key factors. They are injuries and weapons.

To illustrate, if the person did not touch the officer or use a weapon, then the crime is a misdemeanor. In contrast, if the person hurt the officer or used a weapon during the crime, then it will turn into a felony.

How does the government prove the crime of Simple Assault on a Federal officer?

To convict a defendant of simple assault, the government must prove three facts:

  1. The person forcibly assaulted [or resisted, opposed, impeded, intimidated, or interfered with] a federal officer;
  2. The federal officer was forcibly assaulted [or resisted, opposed, impeded, intimidated, or interfered with] while engaged in the performance of his official duty or on account of the performance of official duties; and
  3. That the person did this intentionally.

Notably, the words in brackets are different ways to commit the crime of simple assault.

Finally, a key point of simple assault is it does not require any physical contact between the suspect and agent. See United States v. Hernandez-Hernandez, 817 F.3d 207, 212-213 (5th Cir. 2016). This means a person can commit an assault without ever touching the officer.

How does the government prove the crime of Serious Assault on a Federal Officer without a Dangerous Weapon?

To convict a person of serious assault without a weapon, the government must prove simple assault plus the following fact:

  • (Fact 4): The acts involved physical contact with the officer or intent to commit another felony.

How does the government prove the crime of Forcibly Assaulting a Federal Officer with a Deadly Weapon?

To convict a person of assault with a deadly weapon, the government must prove simple assault plus the following fact:

  • (Fact 4-a): The person used a deadly or dangerous weapon or inflicted bodily injury.

What are the penalties for assaulting a federal officer under 18 USC 111?

Simple assault is a misdemeanor crime. It carries up to one year in jail.

On the other hand, serious assault without a deadly weapon is a felony that carries up to eight years in jail.

Similarly, serious assault with a deadly weapon is a felony. But it carries up to 20 years in jail.

The table below summarizes these three penalties.
No.OffenseTypeJail TimeFine Amount
1Simple AssaultMisdemeanorUp to 1 year in jail.Up to $100,000.00
2Assault without a weaponClass D FelonyUp to 8 years in jail.Up to $250,000.00
3Assault with a weaponClass C FelonyUp to 20 years in jail.Up to $250,000.00

San Antonio Federal Criminal Defense Attorney.

Assaulting a federal officer is a serious crime. And it carries stiff jail terms. However, a person charged with this crime has options.

First, he or she must investigate the facts in the case. Often in these types of cases there is a big difference between the way the officer tells the story and the way the deal really went down. This is because the officer is the victim in the case. Consequently, the officer’s version of events may not be reliable. In other words, a defense review of the case will show if there are any gaps in the officer’s story.

Next, the person must make a decision. Does he or she want to fight the case or work out a plea deal? This is the biggest question in every criminal case. And the answer will depend on the facts of the case and the client’s goals. For some clients, a plea deal maybe the way to go. But for others, a jury trial may protect them from an unfair conviction.

In sum, a person charged with assaulting a federal officer should speak to a qualified attorney about his or her options. The lawyer will review the facts with the client help him or her make the best choices in the case. But most of all, the right attorney will make sure the criminal-justice system treats the client fairly.

Genaro R. Cortez

Law Office of Genaro R. Cortez, P.L.L.C.

730 West Hildebrand Avenue
Suite 2,
San Antonio, Texas 78212
Phone: 210-733-7575
Fax: 210-733-7578
Email: genaro.cortez@cortezlawyer.org