What are the elements of an assault charge?
When an Arizona prosecutor believes that they have enough evidence to try and convict a person for the crime of assault, they think that they can prove all of the elements of the charge. The following paragraphs will outline what is involved in a charge of assault and what defenses a Mesa resident may have to such claims; this post does not offer legal advice and readers should retain their own attorneys to get case-specific guidance.
First, an assault charge must involve an action. The action cannot only be the words said by the alleged assaulter. The action must be in furtherance of the alleged attacker’s intention to cause physical harm to their victim.
Second, the alleged attacker must want and intend to cause fear of harm in the alleged victim through the action just discussed. For example, if an alleged attack said, “I am going to beat you up,” raised their fists and began running at the alleged victim then a court may argue that the alleged victim had a reasonable apprehension that the alleged attacker was going to follow through on their threat of physical violence.
Assaults do not actually have to involve physical contact. In fact, assaults have as much to do with the beliefs of the alleged victim as they do with the contact the alleged victim and alleged aggressor have with each other.
An action and an intention are needed for a person to be charged with assault. However, defenses are sometimes available when this and other charges are lodged. Self-defense and the defense of others often come into play when claims of assault are made against Arizona residents.