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Assault and battery: What assault is and is not under the law

If you're accused of assault, it's important that you speak with your attorney about your options. Before you can fully devise a defense, you need to consider what constitutes an assault and if your case fulfills those elements. If it doesn't, you can use that to your benefit as you build your own case to protect yourself.

Assault takes place, by general terminology, when one person threatens to hurt someone in a way that seems convincing to that person. Assault does not actually have to take place, but battery, which often follows, is a physical attack on that person. Battery can be either sexual or nonsexual.

Threats are not always considered to be assaults, although they could be in some cases. To be recognized at the level of an assault, then there are two elements that the alleged victim will need to prove. First, he or she will have to prove that you intended to make the person apprehensive about your presence. He or she should be able to prove that he or she was concerned that you would cause him or her harm. Second, he or she needs to show that the act that caused him or her the apprehension did actually lead to him or her getting injured and becoming a victim through offensive contact.

Words alone are not enough to be considered assault. Being aggressive without physically hurting someone is just talk in many cases. For instance, a good example is if someone says, "I'm going to hit you with a bat!" If the person doesn't have a bat on him or her at the time, then it's unlikely that the threat can be carried out, so it can't be elevated to assault.

Source: FindLaw, "Elements of Assault," accessed Nov. 20, 2015

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