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What is assault, and what elements are needed to prove it?

On Behalf of | Sep 5, 2022 | Battery And Assault

Many people automatically think of assault as being a crime that involves one person physically striking the other. However, its meaning is different under Illinois law.

The crime of assault explained

Assault does not refer to one person physically harming another. It is defined as an act against a person that deliberately places fear of imminent harm. A person could be arrested and charged with assault even if they have not actually touched the victim.

There are different examples of assault that could result in an arrest. A person could display a weapon to someone with the intention of scaring them and raising it as though they are going to strike them. Raising a hand or fist or making a motion as though about to kick the victim is another example of assault.

If the perpetrator has a weapon such as a gun and aims it at another person, they can face assault charges even if the weapon isn’t loaded. Even attempting to spit on another person is considered assault.

Elements needed to prove assault

In a case involving alleged assault, the prosecution would have to prove that certain elements were in place. If they aren’t present, the defendant could not be proven guilty. The first is that the defendant had the intention of scaring the victim into believing imminent bodily harm was a factor.

The victim must have believed they were going to be harmed by the defendant and must have been aware of the potential to be harmed.

The next element of assault is that the victim was made to believe their safety was in imminent danger. Then, the defendant must have shown intent to harm the victim and made some type of physical act to indicate as much.

Assault is a serious offense that carries equally serious consequences.