What Constitutes Assault?

Per Georgia criminal statute, GA Code § 16-5-20 (2017), the following constitutes assault:

(1) An attempt to “commit a violent injury to the person of another” or

(2) The commission of “act which places another in reasonable apprehension of immediately receiving a violent injury.”

If someone tries to hurt you or does something on purpose that makes you afraid that the person will hurt you right then, that person has committed the crime of assault. For example, if a person attempts to punch you, that constitutes assault. If someone threatens to hit you while raising their fist, that also constitutes assault.

When Simple Assault Becomes “High and Aggravated”

Georgia law escalates the crime of simple assault from a plain misdemeanor to a misdemeanor of a “high and aggravated nature” if the assault takes place:

  • In a public transit vehicle or station
  • Between past or present spouses
  • Between parents and children
  • Between stepparents and stepchildren
  • Between foster parents and foster children
  • Between people living or formerly living in the same household (but not among siblings)
  • When the victim is 65 years or older
  • When the victim is a public school system employee who is on school property (including on school buses and at bus stops) or engaged in official duties
  • When the victim is pregnant

Corporal punishment by a parent or guardian does not fall under this statute.

The Definition of Aggravated Assault

Georgia law defines aggravated assault, in GA Code § 16-5-21 (2017), as follows:

“(a) A person commits the offense of aggravated assault when he or she assaults:

(1) With intent to murder, to rape, or to rob;

(2) With a deadly weapon or with any object, device, or instrument which, when used offensively against a person, is likely to or actually does result in serious bodily injury;

(3) With any object, device, or instrument which, when used offensively against a person, is likely to or actually does result in strangulation; or

(4) A person or persons without legal justification by discharging a firearm from within a motor vehicle toward a person or persons.”

Possible Justification for Simple Assault in an Injury Case

Depending on the facts, sometimes a defendant in an assault case will claim that the assault victim caused the incident by using “opprobrious or abusive language” toward the defendant. It will be up to the judge or jury to decide whether the words justified the assault.

If the defendant attempts to use this tactic, our team will work to prove that you did not provoke your attacker.

How a Criminal Assault Can Also Be a Tort

Our statutes create the right to sue in civil court for damages if you are the victim of an assault. GA Code § 51-1-14 (2017) says that “Any violent injury or illegal attempt to commit a physical injury upon a person is a tort for which damages may be recovered.”

In other words, if someone hurts you or tries to hurt you through violence, that person has committed a tort, which allows you to sue for assault.

Damages for the Tort of Assault

You are entitled to the same types of damages for an assault as you are for any other type of personal injury tort. People often sue their attackers in civil court because while the criminal courts might punish the defendant, the criminal conviction does not result in financial compensation for the victim.

The damages in a civil lawsuit for assault can include:

Medical expenses to treat the injuries that resulted from the assault, e.g., the ambulance, emergency room, doctors, hospital, surgery, diagnostic testing, procedures, prescription drugs, and physical therapy.

Lost wages to replace income that you missed because of the assault, medical treatments, and recuperation time.

Pain and suffering damages compensate you for the physical discomfort, mental distress, and inconvenience of the assault.

Decreased earning capacity if you cannot earn as much money after the assault because of your injuries.

Emotional harm. The trauma of being an assault victim can cause short-term and long-term emotional injury.

Long-term care damages can help to pay for the cost of long-term care if your injuries render you unable to live independently or you need daily medical assistance.

Getting Legal Help if Someone Assaulted You

It can be confusing to try to understand civil statutes about assault. But you do not have to handle your case alone. An Atlanta assault and battery lawyer is standing by ready to help with your case. Just call S. Burke Law at 404-842-7838 to discuss your case and right to compensation for your injuries. The consultation is free, and there is no obligation. You also pay nothing until we win your case.