I know this is a weird question. I'm curious as to what counts as assault, in the sense a person would be likely found guilty of it in court. Generally assault is considered fighting someone who did not want to fight you. So does this mean if two people agree to a fight, it's legal? This seems to be the case with MMA where they wear virtually no safety equipment.

What if an aggressor gets up in another persons face, then would the person be able to hit first? I saw this in a YouTube video: a police officer responded to a 911 call. The person who he called was a army drill sergeant and started yelling at the police officer and getting up in his face (like in movies like Full Metal Jacket). Though the drill sergeant technically didn't touch the police officer, the officer hit him in the face, pinned him and arrested him. Though there were other factors like the drill instructor seemed to be on drugs.

If a person does something minor like throws water at a person or shoves a person would that count as assault? For example in sports games you occasionally see a player or coach shove someone. If there was a prank like shoot someone with a water gun, could this be assault if they didn't agree to it?

1 Answer 1


An assault is carried out by a threat of bodily harm coupled with an apparent, present ability to cause the harm.

There is no need for physical contact in an assault, all that is needed is the threat and the apparent, present ability. The drill sergeant was behaving in a threatening manner and had an apparent, present ability to cause harm; he was guilty of assault.

Consensually engaging in a legal contact sport lacks the threat of bodily harm; that is to say that the bodily harm is a risk of the sport but it is not the object of it. Of course, an illegal sport where death or maiming is an inherent part would leave the participants open to assault (and battery) charges - you cannot agree to do illegal things.

What is necessary to constitute the threat and the apparent means depends on the whole of the circumstances. A person throwing water when they had threatened the victim with acid is most certainly assault. Pointing a replica pistol at someone who doesn't know it is a replica constituted the threat and apparent means in one action.

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    Saw a TV interview where rapper A (with bad reputation) called rapper B (with equally bad reputation) an idiot for carrying a fake gun around with him. Because showing it would likely be assault, give the victim an excuse for hurting or killing you in self defence, while not protecting or helping you in any way.
    – gnasher729
    Sep 25, 2021 at 14:00

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