Defining Criminal Assault

Most people believe that assault is actual physical harm inflicted on someone, but in general just the threat of harm can be considered criminal assault. It is one of the few criminal offenses for which a person can be charged with little or no evidence. By definition, anyone can state that they had been threatened with bodily harm, and this could be grounds for an arrest of the accused. Criminal assault can be a misdemeanor or felony depending on the circumstances of the incident. For example, simple assault such as swinging a bat but not making actual contact is a misdemeanor while aggravated assault, where actual physical harm occurs usually with a deadly weapon, is a felony.

State law dictates what constitutes criminal assault within its jurisdiction, so what may be criminal assault in one state may not be in another state. It is important when being accused of criminal assault that you retain a lawyer who has an in-depth knowledge of state law as well as an active practice in the jurisdiction. Criminal defense lawyers and state prosecutors in the same jurisdiction tend to know each other as well as other officers of the court, which can make your defense go more smoothly than if you bring in an outsider, no matter how experienced or knowledgeable.

The usual companion of assault is battery, which is the attempted or actual intentional or negligent infliction of bodily harm. In general, it follows that a charge of battery also includes assault, but a charge of assault does not necessarily include battery. Battery may also be classified as a misdemeanor or felony.

Because little evidence is required for a charge of assault, a conviction or dismissal boils down to how good the defense lawyer is in handling the case. It may not even get to a trial if the defense can provide a good reason for the case to be dismissed i.e. an alibi that proves the defendant could not possibly have been present at the time of the alleged incident to do the assault.

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