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Assault - Elements, Punishment - Aggravated Assault

law common criminal harm

At COMMON LAW, an intentional act by one person that creates an apprehension in another of an imminent harmful or offensive contact.

An assault is carried out by a threat of bodily harm coupled with an apparent, present ability to cause the harm. It is both a crime and a TORT and, therefore, may result in either criminal or civil liability. Generally, the common law definition is the same in criminal and TORT LAW. There is, however, an additional CRIMINAL LAW category of assault consisting of an attempted but unsuccessful BATTERY.

Statutory definitions of assault in the various jurisdictions throughout the United States are not substantially different from the common-law definition.

Aggravated Assault

An aggravated assault, punishable in all states as a felony, is committed when a defendant intends to do more than merely frighten the victim. Common types of aggravated assaults are those accompanied by an intent to kill, rob, or rape. An assault with a dangerous weapon is aggravated if there is an intent to cause serious harm. Pointing an unloaded gun at a victim to frighten the individual is not considered an aggravated assault.

FURTHER READINGS

Brewer, J. D. 1994. The Danger from Strangers: Confronting the Threat of Assault. Norwell, Mass.: Kluwer Academic.

Assault and Battery - Intent, Defenses, Punishment [next]

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