The short answer is yes; you could be charged with assault even if the alleged victim did not suffer any harm. However, it could be difficult, but not impossible, for a prosecutor to prove an assault if the alleged victim did not have a physical injury.
Ohio Revised Statute § 2903.13 defines assault as knowingly harming or attempting to harm a person or their unborn child. It is usually a first-degree misdemeanor charge, which is the most serious type of misdemeanor. The crime is often called “simple assault.”
Note that the law makes it a crime to attempt to harm someone. So, for example, throwing a bottle at someone is an assault, even if the bottle misses and the intended target is unharmed.
Arguably, the absence of physical harm does not mean that someone was not hurt. In the example above, a person who was the target of the bottle might have experienced an intense fear that the bottle would hit its mark and cause an injury. A prosecutor might argue that the psychological impact of that trauma constitutes harm.
If no one suffered physical harm, simple assault is usually the most severe charge someone might face. However, if the alleged victim was a functionally disabled person, the charge could be a felony.
For example, if a nursing home employee pulled a hand back as if to slap a patient with dementia, the employee could be charged with assault even though they did not strike the patient. Similarly, an attempt to harm a police officer, teacher, firefighter, doctor, judge, or other public employee identified in the law could lead to felony charges, even if the person did not suffer physical harm.
When the alleged victim is a member of the same household as the accused could be charged with domestic violence in addition to assault. A threat of physical harm that puts the other person in fear of injury is sufficient to justify a domestic violence charge, even if the alleged offender did not carry out the threat.
A judge could sentence someone convicted of simple assault to up to six months in the county jail if the offender has no previous convictions. An offender with prior convictions for a violent crime could receive a felony sentence.
However, in practice, assault prosecutions rarely go forward if the alleged victim did not experience any physical harm, except in rare circumstances. Depending on the prosecutor’s evidence, it might be possible for a Groth & Associates attorney to persuade a prosecutor to drop a charge or allow an accused to plea to a lesser offense.
In some cases, an alleged offender could benefit from drug or alcohol treatment, anger management training, mental health support, or another supervised program. A diversion program might also be suggested. Completing one of these programs usually results in the judge dismissing all charges.
The law’s definition is broad enough that you could be charged with assault even if the alleged victim did not suffer physical harm.
If you are facing allegations of assault, a skilled defense attorney can help you understand the charges you are facing and work to attain the best possible legal outcome. Reach out today to schedule a consultation.