When people hear the word assault, they often automatically couple it with battery. They think of each of these words encompassing the same thing. People don’t think of assault being charged separately from a battery. They think of assault and battery as one crime. This is where the misconception begins.
Often, when somebody enters the office with an assault charge, they might not have the battery charge. Usually, one of the first things they say is that they never touched the person. I think that’s because people tend to hear assault in the context of “assault and battery”. So, when they come in, one of the biggest misconceptions they have is that they must actually touch the other person to be charged with assault.
The other misconception is the veil behind the threats, so to speak. People say, “I didn’t actually mean what I said. I didn’t think that they would take it seriously.” However, if I were assaulting you verbally, the severity doesn’t lie in how I intended my words to come off. The severity lies in how you perceive the words and whether or not you believe that I have the ability to carry out that threat.
During the example in which I ran up to you with a hand up, acting like I would punch you, even if I may not have an intended to do so, you might think I’m going to do it if I get the opportunity. Obviously, if I’m running up to you, there’s no fence between us. There are no barriers. I have the ability to inflict harm.
Another misconception occurs when somebody is being charged with assault, but this person is smaller than the other person. Let’s say I’m 6’2”, and you’re 5’0”. You run toward me, and I think you’re going to punch me. This could be an assault. The fact that you’re smaller than me and that you shouldn’t evoke any fear in me makes no difference. This is purely based on your actions and what my perception of your actions was.
What Are Some Unintentional Mistakes People Commit That Hurt Their Assault Case?
Much like every criminal case, the biggest mistake involves admitting to everything and speaking to the police. Often, when the police are investigating a case, especially with an assault, they’re going to ask both parties for their side of the story. Often, clients explain their side of the story, but because this interview by the police officer is usually done in the heat of the moment, they get worked up and leave out certain things. They may include other things that they feel enhance their case or things that they feel will make them appear “not guilty” enough to be arrested.
Usually, this explanation by the client just makes everything worse, because then the police officer can see adrenaline rushing through you. They’re probably going to take you into custody anyways because you’re explaining events A, B, and C, and you’re probably admitting to the actual assault.
Do Police Officers Ever Try to Coerce a Confession in an Assault?
They do occasionally, if they feel they need more information or if they submit a report to the DA’s office for prosecution. The DA will sometimes return that report requesting that they pursue further investigation. This way, they can see if there is enough evidence available to prosecute someone.
Coercion doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. The police officer or a detective will contact either the victim or the potential defendant to get more information and see if this is a case they should pursue.
Are You Obligated to Speak to the Police Officer About Anything?
You are not, at any point, obligated to speak to the police officer. You aren’t obligated when you’re in or out of custody.
If you are in custody, you must be advised of Miranda Rights before they even attempt to speak to you. If they don’t read them to you, you could have all your statements suppressed. This basically means that the DA won’t be able to use them against you, with some exceptions. If you try to lie about certain things, then those statements could enter to address credibility concerns.
Can a Police Officer Exaggerate the Truth or Tell a Lie?
Yes! They can lie. They can tell you that they won’t pursue charges, that they won’t pursue prosecution, that they already have evidence against you, and that they may not have evidence. This is perfectly fine and all legally acceptable.
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