What makes a threat of violence an assault?

When a New Jersey child gets mad at their sibling, they may shout "I'm going to kill you!" at each other. Only in the rare and very serious case may a child actually mean what they have said; despite its serious connotation, this phrase is often employed by individuals when they are stressed or irritated with other people. In fact, adults also say many things that may be perceived as threats of violence or aggression when in fact they are just common phrases and sayings used in difficult or unpleasant contexts.

An assault may fall into the gray area surrounding colloquial phrases involving stated aggression or violence. While an assault does not have to involve physical contact between individuals, it does involve a threat made by one person that causes the other to fear for their safety. The threat must be made by someone who wishes to cause fear or apprehension in the other, and the threat must actually cause that fear and apprehension in the victim in order for an assault to happen.

The difference, therefore, between a child's or adult's stressed expression and an actual assault is the desire of the speaker to cause fear in the other and the actual development of fear in the victim. Individuals who are charged with assault may be able to use this subtle difference in their criminal defense plans.

As with all of the posts on this blog, readers should not use this post as legal advice. They should consult with their criminal defense attorneys for support about how to manage their own legal needs. Assault charges are serious and should be addressed to protect the futures of those facing them.

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