Being accused of an assault is hard to live with; your reputation may be damaged, and you could find that it’s harder to keep your job or manage your social life. On top of that, you may be worried that you’re going to face years of time in prison or large fines.

Before you worry too much about the future consequences, there are several elements of assault that you should be aware of. These include intending to cause the fear of harmful or offensive contact and performing an act that causes apprehension in the victim about the potential for harmful contact. Essentially, you need to threaten someone and have the means to follow through on that threat.

Words alone aren’t enough to be an assault by law. If the threat is accompanied by a dangerous action or if the person has the ability to carry out the threat, then that could be considered to be an assault, but there is a fine line between an empty threat and a threat that should be taken seriously.

Assault requires intent, so if the intent doesn’t exist, then an assault isn’t possible. However, if there is evidence that any reasonable person would have assumed that certain negative consequences would have resulted from the other person’s claims, then assault can be a possible claim against that party.

Apprehension, as defined by law, is not the same as fear. Apprehension only has to be the recognition that an injury or that offensive contact is imminent. Our website has more information on assault and what to do if you’ve been charged.