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Even though assault is basically a physical attack, every state has its own definition of what violence constitutes a legal offense, and what the penalties are. 

Alaska statute 11.41.200 explains exactly what constitutes assault in the first degree. 

Intention 

Acting in a way that intentionally causes a serious injury to someone is first-degree assault. This could be a fairly straightforward physical attack on someone involving a plan to hurt him or her. 

On the other hand, a person could also intentionally engage in a dangerous action that seems to show that he or she does not care about the lives of others, and thus hurt someone seriously, and that would also be first-degree assault. 

Recklessness 

Hurting someone with a knife or other dangerous object does not require intent to result in a first-degree assault charge. The action could be the result of recklessness, instead, which involves acting without thinking about the consequences of the action, or appearing not to care about the consequences. 

Repetition 

Maybe a person’s single reckless action does not cause a serious injury, and so would not on its own be first-degree assault. But, it may become first-degree assault if he or she attacks someone several times with a dangerous object, and the result of the repeated assaults is a serious injury. 

Penalties 

Assault in the first degree is a class A felony in Alaska, a conviction that may result in a prison term of up to 20 years, depending on factors such as whether it is a first felony offense, whether the offense involved a dangerous object or deadly weapon, whether an injury or death occurred and other factors.