Assault is a violent crime. However, each state may define assault differently from another. Some states may view assault as the use of violence or force against another person, such as using an object as a weapon or hitting them with their fists. In other states, they may categorize assault as not needing to make physical contact and that even unsuccessful physical attempts at harm may be in violation of the law if the victim felt seriously threatened. Verbal threats are not typically sufficient enough to be assault. But, raising a hand or moving threateningly towards another could be plenty for the victim to file an assault charge against the perpetrator. 

Unfortunately, not everyone acts with a moral compass when accusing another person of a crime. A person who wasn’t actually hurt or threatened by someone may call the police and lie as a way to seek revenge or just get someone they dislike in trouble. If this is the case for you, then it is highly advisable you seek legal counsel for help getting the charges dropped. 

What happens if the “victim” says I did something that made them feel threatened?

Depending on the state you reside and how assault is defined, will determine whether the actions you supposedly took were serious enough to have caused fear in the other person. The victim’s response must have been not only genuine but reasonable based on the circumstances of the event. Just because someone came forward and accused you of assault doesn’t mean you are automatically charged. The person who made these claims will have to bring forward supporting evidence. If you hire an attorney, then he or she can analyze the case and proof brought against you. 

What is the least serious level of assault?

Simple assault is often charged as a misdemeanor and is the very least serious, that involves minor injury or threat of harm. If you live in a state where assault is viewed as a physical attack, then slapping or shoving a person during an argument may be charged as simple assault. However, if you live in a state where assault is defined as any threatening behavior that causes fear, then a person who verbally threatens to harm another may receive a simple assault conviction. To find out about your state laws and how this impacts your assault accusation, it is best to consult with an attorney who is familiar with criminal defense cases. 

Does it matter if the victim is considered a person of “protected class”?

There are a number of states that view certain people as being more vulnerable than others to having their safety put at risk. Those who are often under a “protected class” or “special victim” could be people like police officers, emergency care providers, a senior citizen, or disabled individual. A simple assault towards one of these people may cause the charge to increase to a more severe misdemeanor or felony.