In criminal and civil law, assault is an attempt to initiate harmful or offensive contact with a person, or a threat to do so. It is distinct from battery, which refers to the actual achievement of such contact.
An assault is carried out by a threat of bodily harm coupled with an apparent, present ability to cause the harm. It is both a crime and a tort and, therefore, may result in either criminal and/or civil liability. Generally, the common law definition is the same in criminal and tort law. There is, however, an additional criminal law category of assault consisting of an attempted but unsuccessful battery. The term is often confused with battery, which involves physical contact. The specific meaning of assault varies between countries, but can refer to an act that causes another to apprehend immediate and personal violence, or in the more limited sense of a threat of violence caused by an immediate show of force. Assault in many US jurisdictions and Scotland is defined more broadly still as any intentional physical contact with another person without their consent; but in England and Wales and in most other common law jurisdictions in the world, this is defined instead as battery. Some jurisdictions have incorporated the definition of civil assault into the definition of the crime making it a criminal assault intentionally to cause another person to apprehend a harmful or offensive contact....LESS