Criminal Assault 101: What You Should Know

Criminal assault is a type of assault for which the perpetrator can be criminally prosecuted. It’s important to know that the definition of criminal assault varies from one jurisdiction to another. In other words, what constitutes a criminal assault in one state, might not be a criminal assault in another state. A person doesn’t necessarily have to be physically harmed for it to be considered a criminal assault. In fact, a situation can be considered an assault when there is an intentional threat of harm.

What Constitutes an Assault?

There are many different scenarios in which an incident would be considered an assault. For instance, if you shake your fist at someone, but you don’t actually make contact with the person, that can be considered assault. Similarly, if you have a loaded gun and point it at someone, and they see you pointing it in their direction, but you don’t actually shoot, that can still be considered an assault. Another example is picking up a bat and swinging it at someone, but missing, is an act that can be considered an assault.

The reason why the aforementioned events are defined as assaults is because the threats were intentional. However, there are some situations where a person can be threatened, without it constituting an assault charge. In the example of pointing a gun at someone, the classification of the incident will change if your intended target is unaware of the situation. Additionally, you can tell someone that you intend to physically harm them at a later date, and that will not be considered an assault.

Aggravated Assault

There are different types of assault. Generally speaking, aggravated assault is a person using a dangerous weapon to harm another person. An incident is considered an aggravated assault when a person both intends to cause serious bodily harm to someone else, and is successful. Unfortunately, a common crime that’s considered an aggravated assault is rape. This can be a crime where there is a constant threat of physical harm, especially when two people are in a relationship. However, it’s still an aggravated assault if a complete stranger rapes someone.

Assault and Battery

Another type of assault is assault and battery. While assault and battery often occur at the same time, they are not the same thing. An assault can occur when a person has not been physically harmed, but a charge of battery requires physical contact where the target is actually injured. Since these are different crimes, they carry separate penalties. Being charged with either assault, aggravated assault, or assault and battery requires the help of an attorney because of the complexities involved.

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