WHAT IS AN ASSAULT?
Generally, in law, assault is intentional force applied, whether directly or indirectly, to someone without their consent.
For example, it can be as simple as intentionally touching, bumping, or spitting at someone when they do not want you to or it can be as serious as beating someone up, choking, or stabbing.
Can an assault be verbal?
Assaults can also be verbal. They can be an attempt or threat to apply force to someone through an act or gesture. This will depend on the facts/circumstances.
While mere words on their own may not amount to an assault, when it is coupled with the present ability to actually follow through and carry out that threat, or when the complainant reasonably believes there is a present ability to follow through, an assault can be made out. Whether someone actually intended to carry out the threat does not matter in the eyes of the law.
For example, someone in the heat of the moment or out of anger says they will throw something at someone while holding the object, even though that object is never thrown and they may have never been serious about actually throwing it, could be liable for assault.
WHAT IS A THREAT?
You may also be charged with a separate offence of “uttering threats” when the threat is to cause death or bodily harm, to burn, destroy, or damage someone’s property, or to harm someone’s animals. This offence on its own carries a maximum sentence of up to five years in jail.
WORDS OF CAUTION
What this means for the average person is that you should be careful when in the heat of the moment that even your words expressed out of anger or frustration can result in a potential charge for assault or uttering threats. Most people think that if they did not touch the person, then it is not assault, but that is simply not the case in law.
If you have been charged with assault or are concerned about charges arising, please give me a call and we can discuss potential defences to your charges.