College is a time when many young adults experience important firsts. They may fall in love for the first time, start working a job in the industry where they want a career or live independently without daily supervision from their parents.
Unfortunately, many college students celebrate their freedom by making choices like staying out all night, drinking too much and maybe even getting into a fight with someone at a party. Young adults often fail to consider the long-term consequences of their actions.
Most college students who make those kinds of decisions will eventually laugh at those stories, but some of them could find themselves facing criminal charges. When might an altercation at a college party lead to assault charges for a student in South Dakota?
Multiple situations meet the definition of assault
As most people already know, intentionally striking someone or touching them in an offensive manner without consent is assault. However, you don’t actually have to touch someone or cause them an injury for the other person involved or the state to charge you with assault.
When someone feels an imminent threat toward their physical safety, it could lead to assault charges against the person threatening them. Verbally threatening someone, looming over them or pulling back your fist like you intend to hit them can also lead to assault charges. So can hurting someone with a dangerous weapon, even if it was just there for dramatic effect and you had no intention of using it.
The impact on the other person involved, the people who witnessed the incident and your history with the other people present can all influence whether a fight that turns physical eventually leads to assault charges.
Multiple defenses available to those accused of assault
Acts of physical aggression do not occur in a vacuum. They are often the result of a verbal situation that escalated. Those accused of assault may be able to point to words or actions prior to the incident that could change how the state or the courts view the situation. If the individual in question threatened you, you may have become physical as an act of self-defense.
Looking over the evidence that the state has against you can help you decide what defense options might work if a fight at a college party leads to an assault charge.