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.
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.
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.
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.
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.