Friday, April 6, 2018

Will Connor McGregor Be Found Guilty of Assault?

Will a Corneal Abrasion be Enough to prove assault?
Recent video has Connor McGregor, the UFC fighting champ throwing a hand truck  into a bus window. The window shattered and those inside could have been hurt. Mr. McGregor has been charged by the police with felony criminal mischief, and three counts of misdemeanor assault.

Will the 3rd degree misdemeanor assault charge in New York hold up against McGregor?

Will Connor McGregor be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt from the assault charges?

Assault in New York Requires More than Physical Damages to People

I watched the video and this is what I saw:

Connor McGregor attacked the bus with a hand truck
The window of the bus shattered
Pieces of the glass window on the bus went flying
People were nearby on the bus
People on the bus were bleeding
The people on the bus asked for a medic
Michael Chiesa suffered facial cuts and lacerations 
Ray Borg suffered corneal abrasions 

BUT Were they physically damaged by the broken glass?
Were they physically damaged trying to move away from the glass breaking?

NYS  Section 120.00 Assault in the third degree.
  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.
But physical damage is further defined as a serious injury.

One of the main defenses to assault is that we don't have enough of a physical injury.

The trashcan can be the dangerous instrument here.
What if any physical injuries were there? Shards of glass could have went into people but will that damage be enough?

Physical Injury Under a New York PL § 10.00(9)) 

Physical Injury is defined under New York law as the impairment of one’s physical condition or substantial pain. For the exact definition, see NY Penal Law § 10.00 (9). The definition of “physical injury” and whether one has in fact suffered a “physical injury” of crucial importance where one is charged with Assault in the Third Degree (PL § 120.00); a Class “A” Misdemeanor.

The courts have been pretty clear that non-permanent injuries are not usually physical injuries for legal purposes.  

Physical injury can be established by impairment of one’s physical condition and/or by the suffering of substantial pain. However, because a serious criminal conviction can result from a physical injury, the Court of Appeals (the highest Court in New York) has been strict in requiring proof of an “objective level” of physical injury to ensure that one is not convicted of a crime where the injury was merely inconsequential. 

For example, in Matter of Philip A., 1980, 49 N.Y.2d 198, 424 N.Y.S.2d 418, 400 N.E.2d 358 (1980), the Court of Appeals held that two punches to the face causing red marks, crying, and an unspecified degree of pain was insufficient proof of a physical injury. 

In People v. Jimenez, 55 N.Y.2d 895, 896, 449 N.Y.S.2d 22, 433 N.E.2d 1270 (1982) the Court of Appeal reaffirmed the need for a true “physical injury” holding that a one centimeter cut above the victim’s lip, without more, was insufficient proof of a physical injury.

Will lacerations, a scratched cornea, and some superficial glass damage meet the legal standard?
It is uncertain at present because we don't know the specific injuries and their long term consequences but often the misdemeanor charge cannot stick for this legal reason.