Scottie Scheffler's Defenses For Second-Degree Assault in Kentucky

Masters champion Scottie Scheffler was arrested by Louisville, Kentucky, police on Friday morning while on his way to the PGA Championship. Shocking images captured him in handcuffs being led to a police car.

According to court records, Scheffler faces charges of second-degree assault of a police officer, third-degree criminal mischief, reckless driving, and disregarding signals from an officer directing traffic. He was booked at 7:28 a.m. ET, approximately 2 1/2 hours before he was scheduled to begin his second round. 

Second-degree assault is a serious criminal offense in Kentucky, carrying significant legal consequences. Defined under Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) 508.020, this charge involves causing physical injury to another person under specific circumstances that elevate the severity of the crime. Here, we explore the definition, legal implications, and potential penalties associated with second-degree assault in Kentucky.

Legal Definition

According to KRS 508.020, a person is guilty of second-degree assault if they:

  1. Intentionally cause physical injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument.
  2. Intentionally cause serious physical injury to another person.
  3. Wantonly cause serious physical injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument.

This statute distinguishes second-degree assault from other degrees of assault based on the nature of the injury inflicted, the intent of the perpetrator, and the use of weapons or dangerous instruments.

Key Elements

To secure a conviction for second-degree assault, the prosecution must prove several key elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • Intent: The perpetrator must have had the specific intent to cause physical injury, or acted wantonly, meaning they were aware of and consciously disregarded a substantial and unjustifiable risk.
  • Injury: The victim must have sustained a physical injury. This can range from minor harm to serious physical injury, which includes substantial risk of death, prolonged disfigurement, or impairment of health or bodily function.
  • Weapon: The use of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument can elevate the charge to second-degree assault. This includes firearms, knives, or any object capable of causing significant harm.

Penalties and Sentencing

Second-degree assault in Kentucky is classified as a Class C felony. This classification carries severe penalties, reflecting the gravity of the offense. Individuals convicted of second-degree assault may face:

  • Imprisonment: A prison sentence ranging from 5 to 10 years.
  • Fines: Substantial fines, though the exact amount can vary based on the specifics of the case and judicial discretion.
  • Criminal Record: A felony conviction results in a permanent criminal record, which can impact future employment, housing, and civil rights, such as the right to vote or possess firearms.

Defenses and Legal Representation

Defendants charged with second-degree assault have the right to legal representation and may present various defenses, depending on the circumstances of the case. Common defenses include:

  • Self-Defense: Arguing that the accused acted to protect themselves from imminent harm.
  • Lack of Intent: Demonstrating that the injury was not intentional or the result of wanton behavior.
  • False Accusations: Proving that the accusations are unfounded or motivated by ulterior motives.

Legal Process

The legal process for handling second-degree assault charges involves several steps:

  1. Arrest and Charging: The accused is arrested and formally charged with second-degree assault.
  2. Preliminary Hearing: A hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to proceed to trial.
  3. Arraignment: The accused enters a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest.
  4. Trial: If the case goes to trial, both the prosecution and defense present their evidence and arguments.
  5. Verdict and Sentencing: If convicted, the judge imposes a sentence based on statutory guidelines and the specifics of the case.

Second-degree assault is a serious charge in Kentucky, reflecting actions that cause significant harm or risk to others. Understanding the legal definition, key elements, and potential penalties is crucial for anyone involved in such a case, whether as a defendant, victim, or legal professional. The complexities of these cases underscore the importance of competent legal representation to navigate the judicial process and ensure a fair outcome.