The word assault usually brings to mind someone physically attacking another person. However, in the criminal justice system, being physically attacked is battery, not assault. Assault is the threat of a physical attack. Offensive behavior toward another person can also be assault. A victim of assault can file for damages due to emotional distress in civil court. However, assault can be harder to prove than battery since there is usually no physical injury involved. How do you prove assault in civil court?
One thing that should be proven in court is that the defendant committed an aggressive act that made you believe you were going to get physically harmed. A heated verbal confrontation is not considered grounds for an assault charge. A lot of different 'acts' can fall under this category. For example, if you were to get into a verbal confrontation with someone, until that person makes a physical advance on you, an assault has not occurred. However, if that person raises their fist and makes you believe you are about to be punched, then that threat of bodily injury is considered an assault.
To file for monetary damages in civil court due to an assault, the threat of bodily injury has to have happened at the time of the incident. What this means is if a person threatens to beat you up the next time they lay eyes on you, that is considered a future threat. Future threats are not grounds for assault. However, if a person is visibly furious and makes an aggressive step toward you while threatening to punch you, that would be an imminent threat.
Another thing that the courts consider is if you felt fear that the person was going to follow through on the threat. If you egg that person on, then proving that you felt fear will be difficult. However, if you backed away or left the scene, that shows you were fearful the situation was going to escalate from a verbal confrontation into a physical one.
Offensive behavior can also be considered in an assault civil case. This kind of behavior includes someone spitting or urinating on you. It also includes lewd behavior that may lead you to believe that your life in jeopardy.
It can be difficult to prove that another person intended to cause bodily injury or was just posturing. Because of this, the more aggressive the defendant acts, the easier it should be to prove their intent. .Having a few witnesses can help too. It is best to consult with a lawyer if you believe you have been assaulted.
For more information, contact a firm like Connolly & Associates.