In the United States of America, assault charges are usually filed in conjunction with battery charges. Contrary to what might be thought, the actual contact is covered under the battery charge. Assault charges account for the apprehension an individual has over the physical contact.
Criminal battery can be charged independent of assault charges if the victim is sleeping, unconscious, or otherwise unaware of the threat that is posed to them. Battery and assault charges will be filled if the victim is threatened before the physical attack takes place, with the criteria used to establish the creation of the threat sometimes being defined loosely.
Assault charges may also be filed independently of actual physical contact between the victim and the accused. Assault charges can also be filed in cases that involve spitting on another person, or in the event unwanted exposure to bodily fluids takes place.
Criminal assault charges may also be filed in the event there is an attempted battery that fails to take place. This goes to the definition of battery. Under common law, the essential elements of battery are:
· The act must be volitional,
· The act must be performed with the purpose of causing harmful or offensive contact that is likely to occur,
· The act must cause contact.
If only the third criterion is not met, the perpetrator may face assault charges since intent to harm was present, and the only reason the full requirements were not met may be accidental.