When you hear that someone has been assaulted, you might just naturally picture a situation where contact is made in a violent manner. If you or a loved one has been arrested for assault, it's important to get your facts right so you can understand how to get through the criminal process. Read on to find out more about what assault is and what it's not.
Not About Contact
The first thing to understand about the legal definition of assault is that it's not about making contact with another person. It's more about how the alleged victim feels about your behavior. If the alleged victim fears for their safety due to any sort of behavior, it might be assault. The victims of assault have to feel threatened that, even though nothing happened, they were sure that something was about to happen.
This element is very important and why law enforcement officers will ask alleged victims if they were in fear of their personal safety at the time of the incident. The theory behind this definition of assault and the designation of it being a crime is that a perpetrator can be arrested and charged with a crime right away before physical harm occurs. While simple assault is classified as a misdemeanor, it's still usually a criminal charge.
Examples of Simple Criminal Assault
To provide a better idea of how an assault might transpire, take a look a few examples:
- Two people are standing on the edge of a precipice (say, the Grand Canyon) and one person jumps aggressively at another as if to push them off. This would be assault if it involved strangers or in certain cases even among non-strangers.
- A person gets close to another (in their face, for instance) and raises their hand as if to strike them.
- A person runs toward another on the street, yelling obscenities and with a fist raised in the air.
Another Level of Assault: Aggravated Assault
Aggravated assault is more serious and might be a felony in some states. Often, it is differentiated from simple assault by the use of weapons. Again, it's not necessary for contact to be made with this form of assault but the addition of a gun, knife, club, or other weapons makes it far more traumatic to the victim. This might also be called assault with a deadly weapon.
If you have been charged with assault, the fact that contact was not made is a vital aspect of the case. Contact a criminal defense firm so that you can prove that the alleged victim was not or should not have been in fear of their life.