Elements of Assault: What You Should Do When Get Assaulted?

Elements of Assault: What You Should Do When Get Assaulted?

We live in an era of crime and criminal activities. Even the most peaceful countries in the world have been facing increase violence. Among the many crimes, assault has been one of the most common ones in the US.

In general terms, assault is touching someone without the person’s consent to hurt the person physically. A regular bar fight can be considered an assault. Moreover, sexual assaults have been one of the most widespread assaults worldwide in recent times.

To understand assault deeply, we need to know deeper areas of assault. Battery is a term that is often associated with the assault. In addition, there are several elements of assault that make a crime fall into this category.


Assault and Battery: Definition and Differences

We often come across the word “Assault & Battery” in many courtroom dramas on television. Have you ever wondered why these 2 words go side by side? Is there any fundamental difference between them? There certainly is. However, the difference is very subtle.


In most states, a crime is considered an assault when a person intends to bodily harm to another person. In most cases, the person who has been charged with assault may not have actually hurt the other person. Instead, the accused has either intended or demonstrated acts that could have caused another person’s bodily harm.

However, the words do not exactly justify the situation. Imagine you are being threatened for something through words in a bar. That may not be an assault in the eye of the law. If the act involves some form of object that enables a person actually to carry out the threat, it will be considered an assault.

Furthermore, no form of weaponry threat is also a type of assault. If the person can prove that the accused has every bit of power to physically harm, rape, kill, molest, and offensively touch that person, it will be considered an assault.



On the other hand, the perception most people generally have about the assault is actually called battery. For assault, the importance is put on the intent more than the actual act.

When an intention to cause harm is actually carried out and a person is hurt, molested, physically harmed, or even killed that is called battery. Battery includes both the intent and the actual violence.

So, a crime is considered battery when someone physically touches another person with an intent to cause harm. However, the touching may not actually lead to any harm. The elements of battery are almost as same as the elements of assault.

The only difference is that in battery, there is actual physical contact along with the threat and the intent. As we focus on the elements of assault, for now, the following part gives an explanation of these elements only.


The 4 Elements of Assault

There are 4 essential elements of assault. If a person carries out these elements, another person can file a case of assault against that person. These 4 elements are- Act, Intent, Apprehension, and Overt.


The act of threat

Just the words to threaten someone cannot be considered as an assault. Words without action have no value. For instance, imagine you have a friendly argument with one of your friends. Suddenly the friend jokingly tells you that he will chop off your hand. This statement only cannot be an example of assault.

For a threat to become an assault, there has to be a person’s likelihood to carry out the threat. This means that the person can act on the threat, and you are physically in danger. Moreover, pointing a weapon that is fully incapable of hurting you is an act of assault. This is true even when there is no verbal threat exchanged.


The intent of causing apprehension

Another major element of assault is that the person needs to have intent. This means that there is clear, intentional and unethical interference with another person’s liberty. Besides, the assaulter deliberately threatens a person and intends to carry out the threat if the person does not oblige.

An intent of physical harm is established when a person is absolutely certain that his or her certain activities or non-obligation will surely have threatening consequences. For instance, pointing a gun at someone’s head is a clear indication of threatening to kill the person. If the person does not do accordingly, he or she will definitely end up losing a life.

In criminal law, intent refers to having a wrongful or criminal purpose behind an act. When a person assaults another, there must be a purpose to carry out an unlawful act. That is the exact situation when a mere threat becomes an assault in the eye of the law.


The apprehension of absolute harm

Apprehension refers to having an awareness of certain injuries or physical contact by an assaulter. The word does not necessarily mean fear. It means that a person is certain that an injury or offensive physical contact is imminent.

The possibility of creating apprehension in the mind of a person depends on certain circumstances. For instance, an adult will not easily be apprehended for possible injury or harm.

On the other hand, a child can be easily apprehended for bodily harm. For an assault to happen, the victim must be aware of the possible threat. Moreover, the person needs to have knowledge of an imminent threat. This means that there is certain harm if the person does not do accordingly, as the assaulter says to do.


The overtness of assault

The act of assault must be over, meaning the threat must be clear to the victim. Of course, mere words do not carry a threat. When the threat is coupled with absolute and sure harm, the overtness of assault finds meaning.

This also means that assault is a combination of all the elements mentioned earlier. All the elements together make a threat to become an assault.



Assault is a certain act of danger to the victim. Nowadays, sexual assault has become the most common form of assault. For an act of threat to become assault, the act must involve all the elements of assault. When all things get combined, a victim can consider going to court and asking for legal assistance.