Is It Worth Pressing Charges For Assault?

A silhouette of a man and woman where the woman is being assaulted.

When you’ve been a victim of physical assault, it is natural to feel overwhelmed and unsure about what to do next. In many cases, pressing charges is the right course of action. However, making this decision is not always easy and requires careful consideration of all the factors involved. In this article, we will discuss whether it’s worth pressing charges for assault by taking into account different scenarios and the potential consequences that may arise from doing so. We will also provide tips on how to safely navigate the process of reporting and pressing charges if you decide that is the best option for you.

What Is Assault?

Assault is a criminal offense that involves an intentional or threatening act that causes another person to fear imminent physical harm. We’ve outlined the different types of assault charges and the key elements of each one below:

— Simple Assault

Simple assault, also known as “common assault,” is generally considered a lesser offense. It typically involves intentionally causing someone to fear physical harm or intentionally causing physical harm to another person. This type of assault does not typically involve the use of a weapon or result in serious physical injury.

— Aggravated Assault

Aggravated assault is a more serious charge and involves the use of a weapon or the intent to cause serious bodily harm. This type of assault usually results in significant personal injury,  is committed with the use of a deadly weapon, or is committed in a way that shows a reckless disregard for human life.

— Battery

Battery refers to the act of intentionally or recklessly causing physical harm to another person. This can include hitting, punching, slapping, or any other type of unwanted physical contact. Unlike assault, battery does not require that the victim fear imminent physical harm, only that the harm was caused.

In some jurisdictions, different statutes or different charges can be used to charge assault or battery, and different elements might be present in different types of charges. It’s important to note that laws can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, so it is important to consult with a legal professional for specific advice on the matter.

You can read more information here about the differences between assault and battery.

How To Press Charges For Assault

A man in handcuffs after assaulting somebody.

If you have been the victim of an assault, pressing charges is an important step in holding the perpetrator accountable for their actions and in protecting yourself and others from future harm. Here are some general steps to follow when pressing charges for assault:



  • Report the assault to the police: Contact your local police department as soon as possible to report the assault. The police will take a statement from you and collect any physical evidence. They will also determine whether there is enough evidence to make an arrest.


  • Obtain medical treatment: If you have been injured, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Not only is this important for your physical well-being, but it also provides important evidence for your assault case. Be sure to keep copies of all medical records and reports related to the assault.


  • Cooperate with the police: The police will likely ask you to provide a detailed statement and may ask you to identify the perpetrator. It is important to cooperate with the police in order to ensure that they have all the information they need to make an arrest.


  • Work with the prosecutor: Once the police have gathered evidence and made an arrest, the case will be turned over to the prosecutor. The prosecutor will review the case and determine whether to file charges. You may be asked to testify in court, so it’s important to be prepared to answer any questions that may be asked.


  • Get support: Pressing charges can be a difficult and emotional process. It’s important to seek out support from friends, family, and professional organizations, such as a victim advocacy group.


It’s crucial to understand that regulations and processes concerning assault allegations may vary from region to region. To ensure your rights are defended and you have the proper legal help throughout this process, it is highly recommended you consult with a criminal defense attorney for legal representation in navigating the justice system.

Proof Required To Press Charges For Assault

An assault evidence kit waiting to be studied.

To press charges for assault, you will typically need to provide evidence to the police and the prosecutor that a crime has occurred. The type of evidence required to prove an assault charge can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case. Generally, the prosecution must prove the following elements to establish an assault:


  • Intent: The prosecution must be able to prove that the perpetrator intended to cause fear of physical harm or actually caused physical harm.


  • Act: The prosecution must be able to prove that the perpetrator committed some sort of act that caused fear of harm or actual harm.


  • Knowledge: The prosecution must be able to prove that the perpetrator knew that their actions would cause fear of harm or actual harm.


  • Directness: The prosecution must be able to prove a direct link between the perpetrator’s actions and the victim’s fear of harm or actual harm.

The types of evidence that can be used to prove these elements include:


  • Eyewitness testimony: Witnesses who saw the assault occur can provide valuable testimony to the police and prosecution.


  • Physical evidence: Items such as weapons, injuries, or clothing that can link the perpetrator to the crime scene can be used as evidence in court.


  • Medical reports: Medical reports can be used to establish the extent of the victim’s injuries and can also provide evidence of the time and date of the assault.


  • Video or photographic evidence: This type of evidence can be used to establish the perpetrator’s identity and the events that occurred.


  • Confessions: A perpetrator’s admission to committing the crime can be used as evidence in court.

Ultimately, the burden is on the prosecution to prove that a crime has occurred. Therefore, it is important to provide as much evidence as possible for a successful conviction. It is also important to remember that victims of assault have a number of rights and protections under both federal and state laws. It is wise to consult with an attorney to ensure that these rights are respected and maintained throughout the legal process.

What Happens After You Press Assault Charges?

A court gavel next to the scales of justice.

Once you have reported the assault at your nearby police station and provided law enforcement with evidence of the crime, police officers will investigate the case. They will determine whether or not to generate a police report and issue an arrest warrant. If an arrest is made, the case will then be turned over to the prosecutor’s office, where they will decide whether or not to file charges against the assailant.

If the prosecutor decides to file charges, the next step is usually an arraignment, where the accused will be informed of the misdemeanor/felony charges against them and will enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.

After the arraignment, the case will proceed to the pretrial stage. This is where the prosecution and defense will exchange evidence and conduct pretrial motions. This is also the stage where plea bargain negotiations take place. If a plea bargain is not reached and the case goes to trial, a judge or jury will hear evidence from both sides and decide whether or not the accused is guilty of the charges.

If the accused is found guilty, they will be sentenced according to the laws of the jurisdiction. Punishment can include fines, probation, community service, or even incarceration.

If the prosecutor refuses to prosecute the case, it means they believe there is not enough evidence or that it would not be in the best interest of justice to do so. If this is the case, the victim’s options are limited. They can seek other legal remedies, such as a civil lawsuit, ask for a review of the decision from higher authorities in the prosecutor’s office, or seek guidance from an attorney, a legal aid society, or other advocacy groups.

It’s worth noting that the process of pressing charges, arrest, and prosecution can be long and emotionally demanding. The outcome is never guaranteed. Victims should consider getting support during this time.

Is Pressing Assault Charges Worth It?

Pressing charges for an assault can be a difficult decision, as it depends on individual circumstances, personal goals, and the severity of the crime. It is important to weigh the potential benefits against the potential consequences and to acknowledge that the outcome is never guaranteed.


Here are some of the potential benefits of pressing charges:


  • Holding the perpetrator accountable for their actions


  • Protecting yourself and others from future harm


  • A sense of closure, justice, and empowerment


  • Helping to prevent the perpetrator from committing further crimes.


However, pressing charges for an assault can also have its downsides, such as:


  • It can be emotionally and mentally stressful.


  • The process can be time-consuming, and it can be emotionally taxing; it may also take a toll on relationships, work, and other areas of life.


  • The outcome is never guaranteed, and the case may not be successful, which could result in a feeling of disappointment or frustration.


  • In some cases, it can put the victim in danger or lead to retaliation by the perpetrator.

It is important to consider all of these factors and seek guidance from professionals and support services. They can help you make the best decision for yourself and make sure your rights are protected. It is ultimately a personal decision that is best made with the help of those who can guide and support you.

Statute Of Limitations For Assault Charges

A statute of limitations is a legal time limit within which criminal charges must be filed. The statute of limitations for assault charges can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the specific type of assault. In general, statutes of limitations for criminal cases are meant to ensure that cases are brought to trial while the evidence is still fresh and that defendants are not held indefinitely under the threat of prosecution.

For example, in the United States, the statute of limitations for simple assault can range from one to six years, depending on the state. For more serious assault charges, such as aggravated assault, the statute of limitations may be longer, ranging from two years to no statute of limitation.

It’s important to note that the statute of limitations for a crime can be extended under certain circumstances, such as if the perpetrator is not located within the jurisdiction, if the victim is under age, or if the crime is particularly heinous.

It is important to note that if you do not press charges within the statute of limitations, it becomes much harder to prosecute the perpetrator. Additionally, the statute of limitations can also vary depending on the jurisdiction and may change over time. It is best to consult with a legal professional or the police department to understand the specific statute of limitations in your area.

Even if the statute of limitations has expired, victims should not forget they have options to seek justice against their perpetrator. Civil lawsuits and restraining orders are two avenues that can be taken as a means of accountability, regardless of how much time has passed since the offense occurred.

Protecting Yourself From Assault

It is important to take steps to ensure your safety and protect yourself from assault. Depending on the type of assault, there are different ways to do this:

— Restraining Order

A restraining order, also known as a protective order, is a court-issued document that orders an individual to refrain from certain actions or to stay away from a specific person or place. Restraining orders are often used as a way to protect victims of domestic violence, stalking, harassment, or other forms of abuse.

If you are a victim of assault and you are afraid that the perpetrator may harm you again, you can request a restraining order to protect yourself. The process of obtaining a restraining order can vary depending on the jurisdiction, but generally, it involves filing a petition with the court and attending a hearing.

Here are some general steps to follow when seeking a restraining order:


  • File a petition: You will need to file a petition with the court asking for a restraining order. You will be required to provide information about the perpetrator, including their name and address, as well as details about the assaults or other forms of abuse.


  • Attend a hearing: After the petition is filed, a hearing will be scheduled where you will have the opportunity to present evidence and testify about the abuse. The perpetrator may also have an opportunity to present evidence and testify.


  • The court issues the order: If the court believes that you are in danger and that a restraining order is necessary, it will issue an order that prohibits the perpetrator from certain actions, such as contacting you or going near you, your home, school, or workplace.

It is essential to be aware that disobeying a restraining order can result in criminal charges and even jail time. However, it’s also imperative to note that restraining orders do not necessarily guarantee safety; thus, extra steps such as seeking professional guidance and making plans for security must be taken into account.

— Protection From Abuse Order

A protection from abuse (PFA) order is a legal document that can provide protection for individuals who have been or are at risk of being physically, emotionally, or sexually abused by a current or former partner or family member. The order can include a variety of provisions, such as requiring the abuser to stay away from the victim, vacate the shared residence, or avoid all contact with the victim.

If you believe you are at risk of abuse, the first step in protecting yourself is to contact a local domestic violence organization or a lawyer who specializes in family law. They can provide you with information on how to file for a PFA and explain the process in more detail.

Once you have filed for a PFA, a hearing will be scheduled where you will have the opportunity to present evidence of the abuse, including any documentation or witness testimony. The judge will then determine whether or not to grant the PFA. If the PFA is granted, it will be served to the abuser, who will be required to comply with its terms.

In addition to a PFA, it is also important to take other safety precautions, such as changing your phone number, using a PO Box for mail, and having a safety plan in place in case of an emergency.

Overall, a protection from abuse order can be a valuable tool for protecting yourself from abuse, but it should be used in conjunction with other safety measures and a comprehensive safety plan.

The Bottom Line

Deciding whether or not to press charges for assault is an incredibly difficult decision, and it is important to consider all factors involved. It is essential to be aware of the potential legal consequences that may result from pressing charges as well as any risks posed by personal safety concerns. There are a few ways in which victims can seek protection, such as by filing for a restraining order or a protection from abuse (PFA) order. Ultimately, if you believe you are at risk of abuse, it is best to contact local domestic violence organizations or criminal defense lawyers who specialize in criminal law. They can give you further legal advice on how to file assault charges and protect yourself from your aggressor. Fortunately, most attorneys offer free consultations for first-time clients.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you retaliate when assaulted?

Retaliation refers to any form of revenge or payback in response to an action. When it comes to an assault, it is important to understand that the law prohibits individuals from taking matters into their own hands and using violence or any other form of retaliation to seek revenge.

In general, when faced with an assault, the appropriate course of action is to call for help and contact the police so that they can investigate the incident and take appropriate legal action. It is not advisable to try to confront the perpetrator or use physical force in response to an assault, as it can lead to more harm and an escalation of violence. It might also be illegal, and land you in trouble instead.

What is a defense for assault charges?

When facing assault charges, there are several defense options that can be used, such as self-defense, defense of others, defense of property, lack of intent, mistaken identity, and mental incapacity. Self-defense is based on the idea that the accused acted in self-defense to protect themselves or others from imminent harm.


Defense of others – The accused acted to protect another person.


Defense of property – The accused acted to protect their property.


Lack of intent – The accused did not intend to cause harm.


Mistaken identity – The accused was mistakenly identified as the person who committed the assault.


Mental incapacity – The accused was not capable of forming the intent to commit the assault due to a mental illness or disability.

Should you press charges for assault if the person who assaulted you was drunk?

The person who assaulted you should be held accountable for their actions, regardless of whether they were under the influence of alcohol or not. The abuse should not be excused or minimized because of alcohol consumption. It is important to ensure safety, pursue justice, and prevent future assaults from happening. It is always recommended to speak with a lawyer or counselor before making a decision about pressing charges.

What are the benefits of pressing charges for assault?

Pressing charges for assault can provide many benefits to the victim and society as a whole. Holding the perpetrator accountable is one of the most significant benefits. It sends a message that assault is not tolerated and that those who commit such acts will be held accountable for their actions. Pressing charges also serves to protect the victim and others from future altercations with the perpetrator.

Pressing charges can also provide a sense of closure and justice for the victim, helping to ease the emotional and psychological burden of the assault. Additionally, it can help prevent future assaults by the perpetrator, as they may be less likely to repeat their actions if they know the consequences will be harsher once prosecutors see the perpetrator has a criminal record. Moreover, it sends a message to society that assault will not be tolerated and that victims have the right to seek justice. Pressing charges can also provide the victim with legal protection, such as obtaining a restraining order or order of protection. It can be a step in the process of psychological healing for the victim as well.

How long after an assault can you press charges?

The length of time after an assault that charges can be filed, varies depending on the jurisdiction and the type of crime. In general, there are two types of time limits that apply to pressing charges: the statute of limitations and the delay of prosecution.

The statute of limitations is the time limit that the state or jurisdiction has set for filing criminal charges. This time limit varies depending on the crime and can range from a few months to several years. For example, in most states, the statute of limitations for assault is usually around 2 years.

The delay in prosecution is a period of time that a victim can take before pressing charges. The purpose of this is to give the victim time to heal and process the trauma of the assault before deciding to press charges. The delay in prosecution can vary depending on the jurisdiction, and in some cases, there is no limit at all.

It’s worth noting that, in some cases, there is no statute of limitations for certain types of assault, such as sexual assault, where the victim is a child or the perpetrator is a public official. Under these circumstances, the time limit for pressing charges can be longer.