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Assault (tort): Wikis


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For other uses of the term "Assault", please see Assault (disambiguation).

In common law, assault is the tort of acting intentionally and voluntarily causing the reasonable apprehension of an immediate harmful or offensive contact. Because assault requires intent, it is considered an intentional tort, as opposed to a tort of negligence. Actual ability to carry out the apprehended contact is not necessary: an assault can take place with a toy gun, for example.

As distinguished from battery, assault need not to involve actual contact—it only needs intent and the resulting apprehension. For example, wielding a knife; or yelling the word snake to a person whom you know is in fear of snakes can be construed as assault if a fearful situation was created.

While the law varies by jurisdiction, contact is often defined as "harmful" if it objectively intends to injure, disfigure, impair, or cause pain. The act is deemed "offensive" if it would offend a reasonable person’s sense of personal dignity. While "imminence" is judged objectively and varies widely on the facts, it generally suggests there is little to no opportunity for intervening acts. Lastly, the state of "apprehension" should be differentiated from the general state of fear, as apprehension requires only that the person be aware of the imminence of the harmful or offensive act.

Assault can be justified in situations of self-defence or defence of a third party where the act was deemed reasonable. It can also be justified in the context of a sport where consent can often be implied.

In Criminal Law an assault is defined as an attempt to commit battery, requiring the specific intent to cause physical injury Black's Law Dictionary[1]


  1. ^ Garner, p. 122

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