Assault is a common criminal offense that most people associate with physical violence or injury. In many cases, charges of assault can result from one person touching another person without consent or attempting to cause bodily harm to the other party even if they failed to make actual contact with the other person’s body.
However, the things that you say or do could also constitute assault if they leave another person in immediate fear for their safety. Threatening words and aggressive body language can sometimes result in assault charges, particularly if your actions or words had a strong impact on the other person, provoke them to an act of self-defense or left them so afraid for their safety they reached out for help from law enforcement.
As with harassment, the credibility of a threat stems from the perception of the victim
In the world of workplace harassment and discrimination, people often wind up frustrated because what they say or do and their intentions matter less than the way the other party interprets their actions or words. An individual who did not intend to harass could wind up guilty of harassment if the victim felt like their words were a genuine (and reasonable) threat.
The same concept can apply to assault charges in Georgia. You may have felt like the threat that you were about to “fire someone up” was a clear case of hyperbole, but if they felt it was a credible threat because you have a lighter in your hand at the time, that very real fear they experience is all that is necessary for the state to potentially bring simple assault charges against you.
People can say aggressive things, especially when fueled by alcohol, that don’t reflect their actual intentions or personality. Sadly, sometimes those aggressive moments can have criminal consequences. If that happens to you, make certain that you seek experienced assistance with your defense.