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An assault may just be an attempted battery

You're arrested on assault charges, but you don't think they're fair. You never touched the person. How can it be an assault without any physical contact?

This is a common misconception. The legal term for physical contact is battery. An assault may include contact, but it doesn't have to. It can just include attempted contact or a threat of violence. In some cases, it's looked at as an attempted battery. If the person believed you would injure him or her, you could still be charged, even if you didn't injure anyone.

For example, maybe you got into a fight at a party. Someone insulted you, and you told them you were going to make them pay. When they left the party, you were waiting outside with an empty beer bottle, and you ran at them. You swung the bottle once and missed, slipping and falling down in the process. The person ran away. No one was hurt.

That could still count as an assault. That person had every right to think you would strike him or her, and you backed up your threats with an action -- charging and swinging. Simply failing to strike the person doesn't mean it's not an assault.

There is a benefit for you, though. If you had struck him or her, you may have faced more serious charges, like assault and battery. With no contact, no battery occurred.

It's very important to know your legal rights and your defense options when facing any charges. As you can see, that starts with making sure that you understand the legal standard and the laws that are in place, putting aside any assumptions or common misconceptions. This helps you know the best way to proceed.

Source: FindLaw, "Assault and Battery Overview," accessed Oct. 05, 2017

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