Quite often an individual’s perception of a simple assault can be quite misleading. In respect to military law, there are three areas addressed by this offence. These are by offer, by attempt, or by battery. By having a basic understanding of these three areas, individuals might think twice before acting out and landing themselves into trouble.
By Offer: If an individual thinks that something that someone is doing, or not doing, is going to mean having some type of force applied against him, then this is an assault by offer. This holds true only if the person is led to believe this by the intention or negligence of the other person. In order for the offense to have been committed it does not mean that the act suspected by the individual is even carried out. In this case, it is definitely the thought that counts.
So really, what constitutes leading one to believe that they are going to be physically harmed? To begin with, the actions leading one to believe they are in harm’s way do not have to be factual. For example, if one person points an unloaded gun at another, and the person the gun is being pointed at was under the belief that the gun was loaded, then the person with the gun has committed assault even if he was only joking.
If the victim really knows that no harm is intended then this is not assault by offer. The victim’s perspective that he really is being threatened with harm must be a reasonable perception.
Assault by attempt: Threatening words or threats of harm being eminent in the future are not considered assault. There has to be something to lead one to believe that they are going to suffer bodily harm. For example, if someone was to strike out at a victim, but they were not within distance of contact, it would still be assault because the potential to inflict harm was there. One would think that based on this, if an individual were to fire a pistol over another person’s head, the shooter would be charged. If there was no intent to cause harm then this would not be the case.
Assault by Battery: The most commonly understood aspect of assault is that where force or violence is carried out by one party on another. It goes further than that, though. Even offensive touching can be presumed as an assault. For example, kissing someone that did not give their permission. There have even been examples of unnecessary exposure to radiation being classed as sufficient physical touching.
Sometimes knowing a little about the law can be more detrimental than knowing nothing at all. Many individuals who thought they knew what assault was had no idea that when charged with an offense, the act they carried out came under such an area of the law as assault.