Assault vs Threats

“Have I been assaulted if someone threatens to beat me up?”

Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyers will always tell you that for purposes of assault, criminal charges will not be filed against someone who simply threatened you. Even a threat of immediate harm is not an assault if the defendant’s conduct is confined to verbal attacks. Generally speaking, an assault occurs only if the defendant accompanies a threat with some additional physical conduct such as a menacing gesture. For example, the defendant simply glares at you and says, “I know that you are a criminal lawyer so I am gonna’ punch your face” This statement is a threat, and it may frighten you, but it is not yet an assault in Broward County (or anywhere for that matter).

Criminal Assault and Battery lawyers emphasize, however, that such a statement becomes an assault, however, if that person advances toward you, fists raised, while threatening to punch your lights out. Although the law sometimes makes verbal communications criminal, assault follows the more traditional rule that the defendant must engage in physical conduct beyond mere verbalization of state of mind. According to Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyer, William Moore, the state of mind required for another type of assault is that the defendant either intended to frighten the victim or recklessly cause the victim to apprehend an imminent touching. A defendant, who waives a gun in your face while threatening you, intends to frighten you. A defendant, who fires a weapon into a house, believing it to be unoccupied, has no intent to frighten anyone; but if you are present, the defendant recklessly caused you to fear imminent harm.

Simple batteries require only an unlawful touching, not actual injury, and are classified as misdemeanors carrying relatively minor punishment. Aggravated assaults or batteries are attacks that actually result in more serious injuries or create the potential for serious injury because the attacker used a deadly weapon. For more information on the criminal charge of aggravated battery, link to our Broward County criminal attorney forum.