There are many different kinds of violent crimes, and if you're accused of one, you need to know exactly what the alleged victim is saying you did. For example, if you are accused of a homicide, it means that the victims are alleging that you killed someone. It doesn't necessarily mean you intended to do so, though.
That is contrary to an accusation of murder, which means that you intended to harm and kill another person. There are several levels to this kind of crime, with a first-degree murder meaning that you not only intended to cause harm and kill the person but also did so with extreme indifference for that person's life.
In the case that you've been accused of assault, that can mean one of several things. Assault itself is only the threat of battery or an attempted battery. That means that you may never have touched a person and can still be charged with a crime. Simple assault, in comparison, is when you do cause someone a minor injury. Aggravated assault involves the use of a deadly or dangerous weapon, the threat of using the weapon or potentially using the weapon and causing a serious injury.
Each of these crimes has a different penalty, which is why understanding the accusation is important. You can develop a different defense based on the charges and potential punishments. In some cases, having the charge changed can reduce your likelihood of going to prison or being convicted of a crime that impacts you in the long term. Your attorney has more information on what each charge could mean for you.
Source: Dummies, "Defining the Different Types of Violent Crime," Steven Briggs, accessed Dec. 08, 2016