The term ‘assault’ has a specific meaning when used to describe an issue with personal injury law or torts. When the word assault is used in a legal sense, a threat or attempt at violence has often taken place. Many Pennsylvania residents may be surprised to learn that physical contact is not necessary to establish assault.

The definition given by legal scholars to explain assault is an intentional threat or attempt to cause harm to another person while possessing the ability to make good on the threat. Once a person makes physical contact to make good on this threat, the second act is commonly referred to as battery.

It is not uncommon to hear the terms assault and battery used together. These terms are used together when the two distinct actions are included within a single incident report. For example, a person who threatens to hit another individual with a stick that he is holding in his hand has just committed an assault. The person is also guilty of battery if he follows through with the threat and strikes the other individual with the stick.

In addition to the criminal charges a defendant can face as a result of an assault charge, they can also possess a civil responsibility if an injured victim seeks compensation. Punitive, compensatory, and nominal damages can all be assessed against a defendant in a civil complaint that involves assault.

Individuals can face the legal consequences of an assault charge for a range of actions that include a simple threat, touching someone against their will, or an actual act of violence. Assault cases represent serious legal problems that an accused person should not attempt to handle on their own. Individuals accused of assault may benefit from a conversation with a criminal defense attorney.