What constitutes “assault”?

My husband and I were at a function when his x-wife walked up to him and started making demands of where he needed to drop off the children. I then came up to her and said, “Don’t tell him what to do”. She told me to sut up and started to walk away. I put my hands on her shoulder and said, “Don’t walk away”. She then called me a bitch. Now my concern is this crazy bird is going to file assault charges since I did “touch” her. Would these charges go through, or is this a matter of something having to be proven?

Asked on December 6, 2010 under Criminal Law, Texas


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The legal definition, in a nutshell,  is a willful attempt or threat to cause injury to another with the ability to do so and an intentional display of force to make the other party fearful.  Assault does not necessarily involve touching.  Battery, on the other hand, does.  But the touching must be either offensive or result in harm AND there must be intent with the conduct.  From your questionhere it does not sound like you intended to harm her only to get her attention.  If she files seek legal help. And next time it might be best to stay out of the matter given the volatile behaviour of his ex and her propenity to blow things out of proportion.  Good luck.  

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