When people find themselves facing assault charges, they may wonder what this charge means. Assault charges can have serious consequences, so people need to make sure they fully understand their situation.
Many people may think that assault involves physical harm to another person. According to FindLaw, people may face assault charges if they threaten or attempt to harm someone else. A defendant does not need to inflict injuries to face this charge.
Elements of assault
Law enforcement officials take several factors into consideration before charging people with assault. One of these is the act a person performed. Did someone issue a verbal threat? By itself, this act may not be a form of assault unless the person also performed an action that made people feel afraid. A person may threaten to throw a punch, for example. This person may only face assault charges if he or she raises an arm and moves toward someone else.
Additionally, law enforcement officials have to demonstrate that someone intended to be threatening. People may not intend to scare a certain person. However, if they intentionally perform actions that they know will make people afraid, they may face assault charges.
Types of assault
Sometimes, the circumstances can make assault charges more serious. According to the North Carolina General Assembly, people may face aggravated assault charges if they threaten to hurt certain people. This includes people who have mental or physical disabilities that prevent them from protecting themselves. People may also face this charge if they assault someone who works for the state of North Carolina while this person performs official duties.
The presence of a weapon may also increase the severity of assault charges. If people threaten to hurt someone with a weapon, they may face aggravated assault charges. People may also face these charges if they caused serious harm to the other person.