What is an Assault Charge?

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Assault charges may be filed after an altercation depending on the circumstances.
Assault charges may be filed after an altercation depending on the circumstances.

An assault charge is a type of criminal charge. When a person faces an assault charge, it basically means he is accused of inflicting bodily harm on another person or making another party fear bodily harm. In most jurisdictions, the threat of injury must be more than just verbal in order to count as assault. The exact laws that apply to assault charges may vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, however.

If one person punches another person, assault charges may be filed, even if the punch doesn't leave a bruise.
If one person punches another person, assault charges may be filed, even if the punch doesn't leave a bruise.

In general, an assault charge is levied when a person tries to inflict physical harm on another person, inflicts harm on purpose, or causes non-accidental bodily harm while using a deadly weapon. Likewise, a person may face an assault charge when he intends to harm a person physically and ends up seriously harming or even disabling the victim. Assault charges may also apply if a person knowingly creates a life-threatening situation and because of this act, another party is seriously injured. In some jurisdictions, a person may face assault charges for threatening a law enforcement official with a deadly weapon if this act also causes serious physical injury.

Assault and battery charges require both a threat of violence and physical attack.
Assault and battery charges require both a threat of violence and physical attack.

In some cases, assault charges are applied because a defendant harmed a particular type of person or used certain means of inflicting harm. For example, if an individual becomes violent with some types of government officials, he may face assault charges. Likewise, drugging another party intentionally and without his permission is often grounds for an assault charge.

A person convicted of felony assault can typically expect a harsher sentence than a person convicted of a misdemeanor.
A person convicted of felony assault can typically expect a harsher sentence than a person convicted of a misdemeanor.

In many places, a threat is only considered assault if it meets certain conditions. For example, if a defendant calls someone on the phone and says he's going to hit the call recipient with a bat, this may not count as assault. If he is in the victim's presence, however, and says he's going to hit him with a bat that he is brandishing in his hand, this may count as assault.

A victim of assault may suffer from psychological trauma indefinitely.
A victim of assault may suffer from psychological trauma indefinitely.

It can be easy to confuse which actions are actually considered as causing bodily harm. In many jurisdictions, however, there need not be any visible evidence that a person has been harmed for an assault charge to apply. Often, pain is enough to indicate assault. For example, if one person punches another party, but there is no bruising or bleeding, the person who punched the victim may still face an assault charge.

Assault may be classified as either a felony or misdemeanor, and felonies are considered more serious. A person who has been convicted of felony assault can typically expect harsher sentencing than someone who has been charged with a misdemeanor. Likewise, an individual who has acted aggressively or out of hatefulness may face a longer sentence than someone who was provoked.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a MyLawQuestions writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a MyLawQuestions writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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Discussion Comments

Lostnfound

Assault is serious business. In fact, those with numerous assault charges are likely to escalate to an even more serious crime. A guy choking his girlfriend may be charged with assault and domestic violence. If he doesn't get help or see where he did wrong, eventually the crime may escalate to rape or murder. Almost every convicted rapist or murderer has an assault charge in his or her past.

Assault charges used to be called assault and battery charges, but mostly this is just assault or in some cases, aggravated assault. In some states, aggravated assault and attempted murder are roughly the same charge. It just depends on the local laws.

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    • Assault charges may be filed after an altercation depending on the circumstances.
      By: Monkey Business
      Assault charges may be filed after an altercation depending on the circumstances.
    • If one person punches another person, assault charges may be filed, even if the punch doesn't leave a bruise.
      By: ferrerilavarialiotti
      If one person punches another person, assault charges may be filed, even if the punch doesn't leave a bruise.
    • Assault and battery charges require both a threat of violence and physical attack.
      By: Monkey Business
      Assault and battery charges require both a threat of violence and physical attack.
    • A person convicted of felony assault can typically expect a harsher sentence than a person convicted of a misdemeanor.
      By: Marc Roche
      A person convicted of felony assault can typically expect a harsher sentence than a person convicted of a misdemeanor.
    • A victim of assault may suffer from psychological trauma indefinitely.
      By: areporter
      A victim of assault may suffer from psychological trauma indefinitely.