The crime of assault is serious and can leave a person facing significant penalties if they are convicted of charges alleging that the engaged in that prohibited conduct. This post will examine the steps that a prosecutor in the courts of Virginia must take in order to prove their case against a criminal defendant charged with assault. It will also discuss ways that defendants can demonstrate their innocence or provide applicable defenses to their alleged crimes.
An assault happens when one person's threatens another person with physical harm. The alleged aggressor in the assault event does not actually have to hurt their alleged victim because an assault only involves the threat of pending injury. When physical conduct results after an assault, the related criminal charge of battery may be added to the individual's list of charges.
Aside from the alleged aggressor's threat of physical harm, the victim of the alleged assault must also have a real apprehension that physical harm was imminent. That is to say, if a person who was threatened did not believe that the alleged aggressor had any intention to follow through on their statements, such as in the case of a joke, then an assault would not have occurred.
Assaults involve threats of harm and beliefs that harm will follow. Both elements must be proven to convict individuals of assault. When prosecutors fail to do so, those facing assault charges may have their cases dismissed or may get acquitted at a trial. Additionally, self-defense or the defense of others may serve as the grounds for overcoming an assault charge but as with all legal matters readers should consult with their criminal defense attorneys for case-specific help.