In legal terms, assault is defined as a threat or attempt to physically touch or strike another person in a manner that is considered offensive regardless of whether contact was actually made. Assault can only occur if the person is aware of the threatened physical contact and is apprehensive that the threat may happen imminently. The fact that a person is afraid that he may be touched offensively at some point in the future is not a sufficient element for assault.
Types of assault
- Simple assault is the least serious form of assault that is often considered as a misdemeanour. Simple assault can occur regardless of whether or not a weapon was used or if the victim suffered from any physical harm or injuries. However, simple assault is treated differently if it is made against certain individuals like the vulnerable and disabled, police officers and emergency health workers that provide service to the community. In these instances, simple assault can be considered as serious misdemeanour or a felony that has harsher penalties.
- Aggravated assault is different from simple assault because a weapon was actually used or it occurred during the commission of another crime like robbery or rape. Aggravated assault often results into serious injuries that require the victim to be hospitalized or undergo surgery. Aggravated assault also involves circumstances that make the crime more serious like threatening a person with death while pointing a gun at him or threat of violence while concealing identity.
- Sexual assault is an act where a person intentionally touches another person sexuallywithout her consent or physically forces another person to engage in a sexual act against her will. Lack of consent is the crucial element of sexual assault regardless of whether the person is incapable of providing consent or has a diminished capacity to consent.
Possible defences for assault
Criminal defence lawyers know of different defences that they can use to achieve the best possible outcome. One of the most common defences start with “You’ve got the wrong person; it was not me.” Another is self defence or defence of others. The lawyer has to present evidence that the alleged victim initiated the confrontation and the defendant has to protect himself or others from the attack. The defendant may show that the weapon was actually in the possession of the victim or the victim made the first threat and struck the first blow.
Another defence that is typically used is the defendant’s actions were purely accidental without any intention to commit a crime. To determine a sentence, the judge will consider all the evidences presented at trial and the circumstances surrounding the case. Penalties are more severe if the defendant has used a deadly weapon like automatic weapons or machine guns during the assault.
Legal representation is very important for all types of assault charges because conviction can easily ruin a person’s life. Conviction for assault may result to a lengthy prison sentence and a criminal record as a convicted felon. A criminal defence lawyer can investigate the case, plan for possible defences and provide guidance throughout the criminal process.