Any type of violent act should neither be tolerated nor accepted, but how would one know about these violent acts, and what should one do in such a situation? Follow this article to learn about assault, its consequences, and why is assault a felony!
In this modern age, everyone is determined to know about their rights and stand up for those rights. Prosperity and pacificity can only prevail if people are better aware of their rights and work against all the injustices that are taking place in society.
All the law-enforcing institutions and organizations have made sure to safeguard all the personal rights of people, no matter what gender, age, or creed they belong. For this reason, every state has its criminal laws against all sorts of violent acts such as murder, battery, rape, assault, etc. Assault, among all these crimes, is often misinterpreted or confused, but it is important to have a clearer understanding of it as it is assault through which heinous crimes like murder, rape, or battery take place.
This article is a complete guide to the concept of assault, how it differentiates from battery, what the types of assault and what the law says about this crime so that you can understand why assault is a felony.
What is an assault?
An assault is when you are physically attacked or threatened by someone. It is not determined by the amount of harm it has caused someone, as any kind of intentional attack is considered an assault. If someone forcefully pushes you, stabs you, hits you with anything, or uses weapons to harm you, these are considered assaults.
The victim is not required to have a physical injury to prove that he has faced an assault as it depends on the intention of the person causing him harm, as a result of which the victim is put in apprehension of the act.
Most of the time, when someone is victimized by any sort of assault, he feels a number of emotions and is unable to process them. This assault, be it in any form, should not be tolerated in silence as it can affect your mental and emotional health. You deserve justice for the trauma or fear that you have gone through due to that assault.
However, an assault should not be confused with any other type of emotional trauma faced by an individual. Trauma can be caused by abusive language, but it will not be considered assault. An assault is characterized by any physical effort made to create the threat of violence.
Important aspects of any assault
Apprehension of harm
The assault also depends on the firm belief of the victim regarding the offensive or violent act leading to imminent harm. It is not required to prove the fear by the victim as the probability of an offensive contact is enough to identify the situation as an assault. Apprehension is created differently for every individual, and it depends on multiple factors.
It is important for the victim to be aware of the threat of harm; otherwise, it will not be regarded as assault. For example, if someone points a gun at an individual from a distance but that individual is not aware of any such act, then it will not be considered an assault. However, if a gun is pointed at an individual’s face where he can feel the threat, then it is an assault.
Verbal abuse is not always considered an assault, but if it involves direct threats to harm the other person, we can count it as an assault. In such a situation, the victim feels unsafe or in danger, due to which harmful physical contact is foreseen by him.
An act of violence is characterized by the intention of the criminal, who deliberately makes an effort to disturb the personal right of another person and harms him. The assaulter possesses this intention that certain consequences will result from his act. For example, if a person punches someone in the face, his intentions are to cause harm to this person in the same way when someone points a gun at someone; he also intends to threaten or harm the other person.
It does not matter if the person attacking or harming you is your spouse, friend, or stranger. It is against the law to harm or attack another person, so anybody harming or attacking you will be convicted of assault, irrespective of his relations with you. Some people do not actually intend to cause injury to the other person but make such attempts to scare the victim. This will also be considered an assault since the tortfeasor knowingly makes an effort to cause harm.
Three types of assault
As we have a clearer understanding of assault, we will now dive into the different types of assault. These types may vary slightly in different jurisdictions around the world.
When a person implies physical force to hurt someone without the other person’s consent, it is considered a simple assault. This is the most basic level of assault which does not involve any weapon. The injury or harm caused to the victim is minor in nature. Slapping someone, blocking their way, or pushing to intimidate them are examples of simple assault.
Verbal and emotional assault is also included in the simple assault. For instance, if a person threatens another person to beat him or slap him, causing a threat or fear in that person’s mind can also be convicted of assault.
Assault causing injury or physical harm
When any sort of apparent injury is caused by someone, then it will be under this type of assault. The individual becomes guilty of causing bodily harm and is charged or punished for committing a crime under the law. This type of assault is considered more serious than simple assault hence the punishment of it is also severe.
According to Kruse Law Firm, the victim can be imprisoned for 18 months if the case gets prosecuted by summary conviction. After the trial period, the assaulter is most likely to get a jail term of almost ten years if he gets indicted for this crime.
Assault with a weapon
A weapon is a symbol of violence and threat, so any act involving a gun, pistol, knife, or any other sort of weapon is a severely violent act. These weapons are also used by our security guards and police officers, but those are to protect society from crimes. If these weapons are used to increase crime or make people unsafe, then it is a severe crime, and the person using the weapon for assault can be punished.
These weapons include guns, pistols, knives, daggers, etc, so the injuries caused by this type of assault are also considered severe. According to Kruse Law Firm, the victim can be imprisoned in jail for almost ten years. The assaults are classified depending on the type of weapon in the following manner by California Law:
- Assault with a deadly weapon (PC245a1): It includes all the weapons that can cause substantial harm to another person.
- Assault with a firearm (PC 245a2): It includes shooting at someone with a gun or even pointing a loaded gun at someone.
- Assault by means to cause great injury (PC 245a4): It includes the weapons likely to cause great bodily injury such as broken bones or fractured arms etc.
- Assault using caustic chemicals (PC 244): It includes all the substances that can disfigure or injure someone such as caustic chemicals.
- Assault on a school employee (PC 245.5): It includes any type of assault on a school employee.
If an individual faces fear of imminent molestation, rape, or any other sex crime, then it is included in sexual assault. It causes sexual violence or aggression, due to which the victim is left traumatized. It includes any type of sexual contact imposed on an individual without his/her consent.
There are different natures of sexual assault, each one of which is considered a crime in the eyes of the law. Women are more likely to be going through this type of assault, but the charges implied by the law of this crime are irrespective of gender, color, and creed. According to Kruse Law, sexual assault and its punishment, depending on many factors, have been categorized in the following manner:
- An assaulter will be sentenced to jail for up to 14 years if the age of the victim is less than 16.
- An assaulter will be sentenced to jail for up to 10 years if the victim or 16 years or older.
- An assaulter will be sentenced to jail for up to 14 years if the victim is attacked with a prohibited firearm.
- An assaulter will be sentenced to life imprisonment if the victim is attacked with a prohibited firearm and left heavily injured.
Difference between assault and battery
Assault and battery are interlinked concepts, so they are often considered the same. However, these two are included as criminal acts and charged together in most cases, but there is a fine line between these two terms. It is important for an individual to know the difference between these two concepts in order to know one’s own legal interest.
Assault refers to the act of threatening another person with physical violence or attack. It depends on the threat a perpetrator tries to prevail through physical contact. Every state has some felony or misdemeanor charges for this crime. These are applicable if the victim is attacked, whereas felony charges are specifically restricted to aggravated assault occurrences. For instance, a person who gets threatened with heavy weapons is advised to approach the law so that the assaulter can be punished for long-term imprisonment and the peace of society is sustained.
Criminal battery refers to the harm suffered by the victim when he/she is attacked. It is the consequence of any attack in the form of a bruise, injury, grope, etc. This crime is more serious than assault because it can include the attempt to harm another person, while the battery is the actual harm or injury caused. The victim does not have to be left with a mark to prove this crime, as sexual assault is also included in this crime though it does not always leave a mark or visible injury.
Law punishment for criminal and battery
Anyone getting convicted of assault or battery is likely to face severe punishment. The charges of criminals most definitely include the crime of assault as well, so if someone is proven guilty of battery, he/she will face the punishment of two crimes. However, if the harm is not caused, then the person will only be charged with assault.
Is assault a felony in the U.S?
The U.S has divided the penalty for an assault into two major categories depending on the intensity of the situation. If the victim has ended up with a severe injury and the accused person gets convicted, then he will be punished with ten years of imprisonment and has to pay a heavy fine. However, if any serious injury has not occurred, but the accused person gets convicted of assault, then he will be punished with one year of imprisonment, including a heavy fine.
The law of the U.S has set apart chapter 7 under the 18 U.S code for the crime of assault. There are nine sections under this chapter dealing with different types of assault cases, as assault can take place with different intensities having different consequences. If a person violates any of the laws in chapter 7 of the U.S code, then he will have to face severe penalties. All the nine sections of assault are as under:
Section 111 of 18 U.S. Code
If there is a case where an officer carrying out state duties is being assaulted, it will fall under this section of assault. It also includes the retired person who was once appointed to carry out state duties but is not serving anymore. The punishment for an accused person under this section is a jail sentence of up to 10 years. If the assault involves any sort of weapon or serious bodily injury, then the punishment can be further increased.
Section 112 of 18 U.S. Code
This section has been created to protect foreign officers belonging to a different country who visit the U.S. Anyone who assaults a foreign officer within the boundaries of America will be held accountable for his actions and will also be charged with a heavy penalty. This penalty includes up to 10 years of imprisonment, whereas threatening or harassing any foreign official can result in a penalty of 6-month imprisonment.
Section 113 of 18 U.S. Code
This section deals with felony assaults in which committing murder or attempting to heavily injure the other is included. Any such crime taking place within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S holds a heavy penalty. If a person gets convicted with the intention to commit murder, he will be punished with up to 20 years of the jail sentence. Similarly, if the intention is not to commit murder but to commit any other felony involving dangerous weapons, then he can be punished with ten years of imprisonment.
Section 114 of 18 U.S. Code
This section deals with the severe assault occurring within territorial jurisdictions of the U.S. Any type of attack, be it bruising, cutting, or scaring, that can be considered as maiming will fall under this section. The punishment for the accused person is up to 20 years of imprisonment, including a heavy fine.
Section 115 of 18 U.S. Code
If the family members of U.S federal officers get assaulted, even if it is only threatening will fall under this section of law. The punishment depends on the intensity of the assault; for instance, a case where the victim had faced physical contact but no serious injury was detected can result in a penalty of 10 years imprisonment. If a severe injury gets detected, then the penalty will be up to 30 years imprisonment.
Section 116 of 18 U.S. Code
This section is created to safeguard females from sexual assaults. Maiming the genital organs of a female can lead to severe punishment of imprisonment for up to five years.
Section 117 of 18 U.S. Code
Assault by one’s own family members is called domestic assault and falls under this section. If an individual gets convicted of any domestic violence within the territorial jurisdictions of the U.S, he will be punished with up to 10 years of imprisonment.
Section 118 of 18 U.S. Code
This section deals with the assault or intentional obstruction caused by an individual to any federal law enforcement agent. This is a simple assault, so any person accused under this title will be punished with one-year imprisonment.
Section 119 of 18 U.S. Code
If a person makes any restricted personal information intending to threaten or intimidate him, he will be charged under this title. Anyone who gets convicted of this crime can be punished with up to one year jail sentence.
What happens when charged with assault?
In most of the civil courts of the world, assault is considered a crime, and law enforcement organizations have designated some penalties for it so that the peace of society is sustained and society can prosper in a civilized way. The accused person is called a tortfeasor, while the victim is called a plaintiff if he approaches state law for justice. The plaintiff puts charges on the tortfeasor for the damages caused to him, and then, depending on the intensity of the case, the judiciary charges the tortfeasor with certain penalties after he has been convicted of a crime.
The penalty can be in the form of a jail sentence, heavy fines, or both. The damage mostly caused due to aggravated assault is in the form of physical injury. If the damage caused to the plaintiff is of serious nature, then he will be given money as compensation for the loss or injury that occurred. The case of assault depends on suspicion of an immediate danger where he perceives harmful physical contact. It should also be proved that the purpose of the tortfeasor was to harm the other person; hence the violent act was intentional.
Can common assault charges be dropped?
If an individual has allegations of assault and is charged with this crime, then he should acquire the assistance of an experienced criminal lawyer. An assault is a sensitive case where the accused person can have allegations for a crime he has not attempted, so in order to seek justice, he should approach a lawyer to defend himself.
Selecting your own lawyer will help an individual be a defendant about his allegations and communicate easily as the lawyer will be trustworthy. There are some consequences that a commoner might not be aware of, so an attorney can guide him about those consequences and help him go through the process. He or she can also have a plea agreement with the plaintiff if it suits both parties. Regardless of the expertise of any lawyer, a culprit who gets convicted for any sort of crime has to pay the penalty charged.
Assault is a physical attack that leads the other person in fear of an imminent battery and is hence considered a crime in every state. It is often confused with battery, but it differs from the crime of battery because just the intention of the accused person is enough to convict him of this crime. Law enforcement institutes have constrained some penalties for the people charged with this crime, but the intensity of the penalty depends on the severity of the case. The types of assault include simple assault, aggravated assault involving injury, and sexual assault.