Assault is one of the more common violent offenses levied against people in South Dakota. Those involved in a violent attack or a mutual fistfight might eventually face assault charges. State law makes it illegal to intentionally cause harm to another person in most circumstances, especially in the context of committing another crime.
Many people who get into fights don’t expect the incident to lead to criminal charges. However, sometimes the police come and arrest everyone involved. Other times, someone involved in a physical confrontation could end up arrested days later.
If you find yourself accused of assault after a recent altercation, can you use the lack of injuries suffered by the other party as part of your defense strategy?
Injury is not necessary for assault charges
Seeing the alleged victim arrive in court with no visible signs of physical injury might make you feel like you have an open-and-shut case. However, harm to the other person’s body is only the consequence of an alleged assault. Bodily harm is not necessary for the situation to constitute simple assault.
In fact, the law in South Dakota allows the prosecutor to charge someone with simple assault when there wasn’t physical contact at all. If one person physically menaces or verbally threatens someone else and puts them in fear for their safety, the incident may constitute assault even though no one actually got hurt at all.
Serious bodily injury to the other party or the intent to cause severe injury can potentially increase the charges and penalties possible in an assault case, but a lack of lasting injury does not necessarily contribute to someone’s defense.
There are many possible defenses
Although you can’t point to the physical recovery of the other person as a means of defending yourself, there are still many alternatives to pleading guilty. Those accused of assault could show that they acted in self-defense. They could show that the other party overreacted to a verbal statement and that no harm occurred nor was intended.
Any of these strategies can potentially help someone avoid a conviction when accused of assault. Reviewing the case against you will be an important step if you hopefully fight back against pending assault charges in South Dakota.