An assault is the illegal act of causing physical harm or unwanted physical contact to another person, or, in some legal definitions, the threat or attempt to do so. It is both a crime and a tort and, therefore, may result in criminal prosecution, civil liability, or both. Additionally, assault is a criminal act in which a person intentionally causes fear of physical harm or offensive contact to another person. Assault can be committed with or without a weapon and can range from physical violence to threats of violence. Assault is frequently referred to as an attempt to commit battery, which is the deliberate use of physical force against another person. The deliberate inflicting of fear, apprehension, or terror is another definition of assault that can be found in several legal systems. Depending on the severity of the offense, assault may result in a fine, imprisonment, or even death.
Generally, the common law definition is the same in criminal and tort law.