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Are Verbal Threats Assault?

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What Is Assault?

An assault is when someone intentionally attempts to inflict immediate injury or offensive contact one someone, and they suffer injury - physical or mental - as a result. Physical contact is not absolutely necessary to a complete an assault; however, the immediate threat of violent or offensive contact is required.

Can Verbal Threats Be Assault?

It depends on the specific laws of a state, but generally no. If the one person only uses threatening words, but does nothing more, it will likely not be considered assault. However, there are situations where threatening words coupled with other acts and circumstance may amount to an assault.

What Are Some Examples of When Acts and Circumstances Constitute Assault?

There may be assault if in addition to using threatening words, the other person also:

  • Holds a bat and waves it hostilely very close to you
  • Carries a sharpened knife and charges towards you
  • Points a gun to your head

Can There Be Assault If I Think I Can Safely Run Away from Harm?

Usually yes. It may not matter whether someone can safely prevent from actually being harmed, so long as they were placed under some initial fear. There is usually an assault once you perceive the immediate threat of violent or offensive contact.

Can There Be an Assault If the Act Was Meant to Be a Practical Joke?

Yes. Assault can be committed even if it was done for fun and without any sinister intent.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

If you are a victim of an assault and battery, you should call the police. If there is sufficient evidence, the police will then forward your case to a prosecutor's office potentially pursue charges against the person who committed the assault and battery against you. You may also want to contact a personal injury lawyer since you may be able to recover physical and emotional damages from your attacker. Similarly, if you believe you may have committed an assault, you should contact a criminal defense lawyer immediately.

Photo of page author Matthew Izzi

, LegalMatch Legal Writer and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 11-28-2017 01:53 AM PST

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