Assault crimes are very common but the legal definition of assault is frequently misunderstood. Many people associate the word “assault” with an act of physical violence. However, in legal terminology, an assault crime does not necessarily have to involve serious physical injury.
What is an Assault Crime?
The most common type of assault crime is simple assault and, while assaults often result in injury, physical contact does not have to be made for a charge of simple assault to be filed. Assault is legally defined as:
- An action committed by one person that results in bodily harm to another person, whether intentionally or recklessly. Simple assaults usually involve only minor injuries, such as scrapes, cuts or bruises.
- An intentional threat or threatening behavior that specifically references bodily injury or imminent physical danger. An example would be one person telling another person that they are going to beat the other person up.
- Direct physical contact with another person when such contact is intended to provoke or offend or contact that is intended to place another person in fear of bodily harm. This could involve poking, prodding or pushing another person while using threatening language.
Other Types of Assault Crimes
While simple assaults are the most common type of assault crime, more serious types of assault can occur based on a variety of circumstances.
- Aggravated Assault: This type of assault is seen as an escalation above and beyond simple assault. An example would be a physical attack that results in serious injury, such as broken bones or severe bleeding, or an attack involving a weapon.
- Domestic Assault: This type of assault occurs when a person causes bodily harm to a spouse, family member, romantic partner, or household member.
Penalties for Assault
- Simple assault is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a $500 fine.
- Assaulting an elderly or disabled person is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail or a $4000 fine.
- Assaulting a public servant is a third degree felony, punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.