What Is the Difference Between Assault And a Threat?

What Is the Difference Between Assault And a Threat?

Personal Injury Lawyer

When someone says they were personally injured, it is often believed that someone must have hit them with something or physically damaged them in some way. However, an assault can happen when someone feels threatened by another person. When an “assault” occurs, person A threatens person B with bodily harm and does so in a way that convinces person B that person A will follow through. However, just because a person is threatening someone does not necessarily mean that an assault has occurred. To legally be an assault, two things must be present:

  1.     Person A intended to cause person B some type of fear or harm, and
  2.     Person B did feel fear and believed person A would harm them.

Thus, when person A successfully instills this fear in person B they have committed the tort of assault and injured person B in some way.

What Is the Difference Between Assault And a Threat?

There is a clear difference between being assaulted and being threatened. If a stranger walks up to person B and says they are going to stab them with a knife but there is no knife present, this is threatening. However, if no action were to follow through, it would not be an assault. On the other hand, if someone threatens you saying they were going to stab you and they also have a knife or sharp object in their hand—even if the victim later learns that the knife was fake—the verbal threat with the accompanying knife is an assault if the victim assumes the knife is real and can hurt them.

The Two Factors Of Assault

As noted above, there are two factors that must be present for a person to be personally injured through assault. These are:

  • The intent to cause apprehension
  • The victim believes that harm is imminent

Intent To Cause Apprehension

To be an assault, there must be intent. When committing an assault, one person must deliberately cause another person to become fearful that they cannot escape harm—either physically or verbally. Thus, a person must believe that the assaulter will perform harmful actions even if the assaulter has no intention of following through.

The Victim Believes Harm Is Imminent

In addition to the assaulter’s intent, the victim must believe the offender will harm them. It is not simply feeling fear, but believing that the harm is imminent. Thus, if the person does not believe the threat or if the victim is completely unaware that there is a threat of harm, an assault has not actually happened.

Assault Damages

There are usually three types of damages that can be collected from assault. These are:

  1. Non-Economic Damages. Reimbursement for medical bills, property repair, etc.
  2. Economic Damages. Damages are given for pain and suffering.
  3. Punitive Damages. These damages are awarded less often but are given for a
    particularly egregious act.

More Information On Assault

If someone assaulted you and you would like to speak with a personal injury lawyer to get more information and discuss your injury, call a law office today.



Greenberg Law Offices