HIT US UP FOR AN EXPLANATION OF SIMPLE ASSAULT
The most basic definition of Simple Assault is when one person touches or lays hands on another person without consent.
Johnny Two-Hands is walking down the street. He sees Cindy Lou walking his way. Johnny Two-Hands quickly runs over to Cindy Lou and grabs her arm with his right hand. With his left hand, Johnny Two-Hands holds up a movie ticket and says to Cindy Lou, “Please come to the movies with me.”
Cindy Lou declines Johnny’s invitation and runs home. Cindy Lou calls the police and exclaims to the 911 operator, “Johnny Two-Hands “assaulted” me!”
Did Johnny Two-Hands assault Cindy Lou, or is Cindy Lou exaggerating what happened when Johnny asked her to accompany him to a movie? Cindy Lou was not injured. Cindy Lou is not bleeding. Johnny certainly did not punch or karate chop Cindy Lou. So, is this encounter between Cindy Lou and Johnny Two-Hands really an assault?
YES! Johnny Two-Hands did in fact “assault” Cindy Lou. No, Cindy Lou is not exaggerating. Under the law Johnny Two-Hands certainly did assault Cindy Lou. In fact, under New Hampshire law, Johnny Two-Hands committed the crime of Simple Assault. Under New Hampshire RSA 631:2-a Simple Assault
I. A person is guilty of simple assault if he:
- Purposely or knowingly causes bodily injury or unprivileged physical contact to another; or
- Recklessly causes bodily injury to another; or
- Negligently causes bodily injury to another by means of a deadly weapon.
II. Simple assault is a misdemeanor unless committed in a fight entered into by mutual consent, in which case it is a violation.
Now, with New Hampshire’s Simple Assault law (RSA 631:2-a) in mind, lets examine Johnny Two-Hands’ actions towards Cindy Lou, because you better believe the local police will be doing so.
Did Johnny Two-Hands purposely or knowingly cause physical contact to Cindy Lou?
Yes, Johnny Two-Hands grabbed Cindy Lou’s arm with his right hand.
Did Cindy Lou (in this example and with the facts available to us) give Johnny Two-Hands permission to touch her or grab her arm?
No. Not as far as we know from the facts of this particular story.
Were Johnny Two-Hands and Cindy Lou about to enter into a mutually agreed upon fight or physical act?
So, under the very specific law of Simple Assault. Johnny Two-Hands committed the crime of Simple Assault against Cindy Lou when he grabbed her arm with his right hand without Cindy Lou’s permission.
Does Johnny Two-Hands have any defenses or will he inevitably be convicted of a criminal assault against Cindy Lou?
Maybe. In order to properly represent Johnny Two-Hands, and defend him against a Simple Assault charge, we would have to know more before saying yes or no. For instance, we would want to know about his relationship with Cindy Lou:
Is Cindy Lou is a stranger to Johnny?
Does Cindy Lou ever grab Johnny’s arm?
Do Cindy Lou and Johnny greet each other all the time by grabbing one another’s arms?
Did Johnny confuse Cindy Lou with his girlfriend Betty Lou (who has in-fact consented to a variety of physical touchings with and by Johnny)?
What was Johnny’s mental state?
Does Cindy Lou ever make false reports?
What is Cindy Lou’s reputation for honesty in the community?
We also would want to know whether Cindy Lou is a credible witness and whether the judge or jury is likely to believe her. Remember, Johnny does not have to prove he is innocent. It is up to Cindy Lou (and the prosecutor) to prove her allegation of Simple Assault against Johnny beyond a reasonable doubt.
Regardless of what Johnny’s defense may or may not be, at OSBORNE LAW, our goal is to make sure Johnny Two-Hands receives the best possible outcome. That may mean Johnny apologizes. That may mean Johnny spares Cindy Lou the burden of testifying, agrees to take a class on side-walk etiquette, and in return the prosecutor agrees to drop the charge to a low-level violation for Disorderly Conduct or something more benign than an assault charge.
As a criminal defense office, we have seen thousands of Simple Assault arrests over the years. A Simple Assault is almost always charged as a criminal offense, or a misdemeanor. A conviction for any kind of assault or alleged physical aggression can cost you your job, schooling, reputation, and peace of mind.
Don’t be fooled or lulled into a false sense of comfort if you are charged with a Simple Assault. There is nothing “simple” about an assault charge. Almost any kind of purposeful or reckless touching/contact of another person without their consent can result in a Simple Assault charge.
As the Farmer’s Insurance tv commercial says, “We know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two.” The same goes for us here at OSBORNE LAW. We have seen Simple Assault charges derive from:
Spouses of 20+ years pushing each other as they battled over what news channel they would watch that night.
People blowing smoke in someone’s face.
People throwing items out the car window and hitting other drivers on the highway.
People accidentally throwing beer onto someone below their apartment deck.
*Remember Simple Assault can be charged as a “Reckless” offense. One need not always have to act on purpose to have unprivileged or nonconsensual contact with someone to be arrested for Simple Assault.
We have seen people from all walks of life be arrested and charged for Simple Assault. We have represented and defended teachers, lawyers, business professionals, clergy, coaches, housewives and stay-at-home Dads, students (from elementary school to college), etc. Fortunately, Attorney Mark Osborne was able to resolve most of these cases without these good folks losing their freedom, jobs, reputations, or privacy. Of course, every case is different.
Perhaps you are someone you care about is facing a Simple Assault charge. If so, we at OSBORNE LAW will want to know all the facts so that we may best help you weather this storm.