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What Are the Different Types of Assault?



Criminal assault is the threat or attempt to physically strike a person, regardless of whether contact is actually made, so long as the victim is aware of the danger involved. There are several different types of criminal assault typically recognized in most jurisdictions.

Types of Assault

  • Felonious assault is an unlawful attack or attempted attack, accomplished through force or violence, that causes physical injury to another person. This type of assault involves the use of weapons and/or serious injury. If a weapon is used, an attack is deemed a felonious assault even if no injury occurs. But there need not be a weapon for this designation. If a serious injury occurs due to an assault using hands, fists, or feet, it is also deemed a felonious assault. Therefore, both serious resulting injuries and the use of weapons are triggers for a felonious assault. Assault and battery is an example of a felonious assault. This is a type of incident that results in actual contact made and creates a need for medical attention to the victim.
  • Simple assault occurs when a weapon is not used and the resulting injuries that are caused to the victim are minor in nature.
  • Physical assault causes grievous bodily harm, such as prior to the commission of a murder or aggravated assault.
  • Aggravated assault occurs with the use of a weapon and/or an amount of increased force.
  • Sexual assault involves the use of force against the will of the victim, resulting in a rape, molestation, sodomy or similar sexual offense.
  • Verbal assault – this is a type of non-physical, oral assault that results in an emotional, mental, and/or psychological injury to the victim, rather than a physical bodily injury.

FBI's Uniform Crime Report

The FBI uses a crime hierarchy to rank violent crimes. Assault is one of the crimes included in that hierarchy. In fact, felonious assaults assume the fourth rank in the crime hierarchy. It is also assumed that the number of felonious assaults occurring in the United States is highly underestimated.

Consequences of Criminal Assault

The consequences of assault offenses and crimes ranges from prison at one extreme to probation, parole, fines, loss of right to own weapons, and anger management programs at the opposite extreme. Of course, there are other penalties, punishments, and sanctions that may result in some jurisdictions. The variables and factors that usually impact the consequences of an assault crime are the prior history of the offender and in particular, whether other assault crimes have been committed, prior convictions, status of current probation, and status of current parole.