Blog written by Barry K. Rothman
Assault law looks into wrongful acts of physical contact that causes fear to another person. Offenders are prosecuted by the government, sued for civil damages by the victim, or both. Assault law tries to deter people from exhibiting threatening or aggressive behavior towards others.
Criminal codes make actions of assault punishable with fines or up to one year in jail. Cases that involve deaths or serious harm will be charged with “aggravated assault.” Aggravated assault can include fines and up to a maximum of 10 – 20 years in prison.
The elements common in crime assault will include the element of intent. In this case, the prosecutor will have to prove that the defendant intended to harm the victim. For example, if someone is charged for pointing a gun at a victim, it wouldn’t matter what was going on in the defendant’s head, as it is common knowledge that if someone points a gun at someone else, the victim will fear for their life. On the other hand, if the defendant is afraid of snakes and the so called victim brings a snake into the defendant’s home, and the defendant points a gun at the victim, the assault charge will not stand, as the defendant’s phobia caused his/her actions.
Another element of criminal assault is the “imminent bodily harm” requirement. Imminent bodily harm states that the victim must fear for a particular type of bodily harm. Harsh threats towards a victim about stealing his/her property or ruining their reputation will not qualify as an element for criminal assault.