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Understanding assault charges

It goes without saying, but assault charges are a big deal. While there is the possibility of jail or prison time -- depending on the circumstances -- a conviction will also mean having a violent offense on a criminal record. As you can imagine, a potential employer in the future may not want to hire someone with a violent offense on their record, while a landlord may not want this person living on their property. 

Assault charges typically stem from heated incidents where there is either a physical altercation or the threat of violence

What is assault? What is battery?

Assault and battery charges often go hand-in-hand. However, there is a distinct difference between the two and it's important to understand both. Here is a brief overview:

  • Assault is the attempt to cause physical harm to another person. In some cases, there may be no physical contact, but verbal assault can lead to criminal charges as well. Assault charges require evidence of an intentional act.
  • Battery charges follow incidents involving intentionally touching or coming into contact with another person in an offensive or potentially harmful way. This contact happens without the permission of the other party.

Assault cases tend to be very emotionally charged -- especially when it's one person's word against another. You swear it was just an argument, while the other person swears you were trying to illicit fear in them. Or, you could be claiming self defense, while the other person says you started it. 

Your actions after arrest matter, greatly

What you do after an arrest matters, greatly, in assault cases. You should not be reaching out to the other person involved, or making statements to police. While you may think you are helping your case -- or even setting the record straight -- everything you are saying and doing could wind up being used against you in court. Rather, hold off on making any comments until after your attorney is present. 

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