A Simple Assault is a minor attack of either a physical or verbal nature. It is an intentional act done to cause harm or distress to another.
Genuine Fear of Harm
For any act to be considered an assault, there must be a reasonable concern that a harmful act will be committed from one person to another. A verbal threat must also have an accompanying physical action such as a raised fist that is ready to strike or some other indication of imminent force. Words on their own do not constitute a form of assault. There must be some form of intent to cause harm, either of a specific or general nature.
Penalties for Assault
A person who is found guilty of committing a Simple Assault may be held responsible to pay damages to the person they victimized. This may include monetary compensation that is intended to cover any medical expenses the victim incurs as a result of the assault, or even payment for any psychiatric or related treatment the victim must seek out afterwards. The criminal may also be asked to pay punitive damages to the victimized party. This is money that is paid for the act of wronging an individual. In some cases for which the victim was not actually physically harmed in an way, the defendant may still be forced to pay nominal damages for simply infringing on the other person's natural rights.
The amount of any damages that must be paid out will be decided by a jury. They have the ability to award the victim any amount they feel is reasonable and sufficient based on the type of assault that was committed.
In some cases a jail sentence may also be included. The penalties are usually larger when an assault is made against and member of a law enforcement agency, a state or government worker or any employee of the court system.
Identifying and Tracking Simple Assaults
Simple Assaults are categorized in several ways. They include whether or not the victim was injured in any way, what type of weapon (if any) was used in the assault, the location the crime took place in, the gender and race of the victim and what the relationship was between the victim and the offender.
Law enforcement agencies commonly track these statistics and publish annual reports with the findings. They are used to study where simple assaults most often occur and to compare the number of crimes in any given area from year to year.