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What is the legal definition of assault?

The definition of assault in legal terms refers to the attempt to injure another person. In order for an assault conviction to happen, however, it does not require the person to actually commit a physical act of violence. Assault can also include threatening actions and even verbal threats of violence.

Actions that can lead to an assault conviction in New Jersey might include the intentional attempt to use violence or force against another person in order to harm him or her. If actual contact is made as a result of this attempt, then it's likely that a conviction of battery could occur.

When trying to convict a defendant of assault, prosecutors will try to establish "general intent." This basically means that an assault cannot happen accidentally. In other words, if you're running down the street and collide with someone, but you didn't intend to hurt the person, you can't be found guilty of assault. However, if you were running in a way that was highly reckless and clearly would endanger others, then prosecutors might succeed in their pursuit of an assault conviction due to "general intent."

Regardless of the circumstances of the case, in order for an assault conviction to happen, the burden of proof will rest with the prosecution. Unless prosecutors can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused person committed assault, then he or she cannot be convicted or punished. Until that point, accused persons will have the right to an attorney, the right to defend themselves and they will be viewed as "innocent" by a New Jersey court.

Source: Findlaw, "Assault and Battery Overview," accessed Feb. 02, 2018

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What is the legal definition of assault? | The Law Offices of Palumbo & Renaud