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A review of the elements of an assault charge

Most of the actions that the state of Iowa and the federal government have criminalized require more than just action in order constitute a criminal charge. For example, a person is generally not considered guilty of theft if they legitimately take something that they think is theirs but that is actually the property of another person. This instance is one of mistake, not criminality, mainly because the individual did not have the requisite mindset to commit the alleged crime.

The same is true when it comes to a charge of assault. An assault does not necessarily involve physical conduct between an alleged perpetrator and an alleged victim. An alleged perpetrator must first make an action or threat against the alleged victim that was meant to cause that alleged victim to experience fear; next, the alleged victim must actually experience apprehension or fear as a result of the actor's conduct or threat.

One can imagine a pair of friends arguing over a trivial matter. The argument may be heated and one of the friends may say in exasperation, "I am going to kill you!" The friend may not actually want to kill the other, may make no action to show that they want to follow through on their threat, and it is possible that the potential victim may not even perceive the comment as one of seriousness. Though a threat was made, it may not carry the intent of inflicting fear or harm against the other and therefore may not constitute a charge of assault.

Every case of assault should be reviewed by a criminal defense attorney as different factual patterns may suggest different defense strategies. Additionally, this post is not offered as legal advice. An assault conviction can impose significant penalties on an individual and therefore should be taken seriously by those who are charged with them.

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IOWA Association for justice IOWA state bar association NACDL 1958 national association of criminal defense lawyers american association for justice board certified specialist DUI defense law the iowa state bar association


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J. Dean Keegan, Eric D. Tindal & Andrea Mason Attorneys At Law
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