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Under Tennessee law, assault does not have to involve bodily harm but simply the threat of it in certain circumstances. A second-degree assault charge may be brought against an individual who has performed an act that makes the other person believe assault is imminent, such as raising a hand as if to hit the other person.

Using that hand to hit someone could count as first-degree assault, a charge meaning that a person has caused injury to another on purpose or as a result of acting restlessly. Third-degree assault is making physical contact with an individual that may not necessarily hurt them but that could be interpreted by the other person as provocative. For example, deliberately running into someone could be a type of assault. Types of assault are also divided into simple or aggravated. The latter involves serious harm or use of a weapon. The penalties for assault vary depending on a person’s intent.

Self-defense may be one defense against a charge of assault. It must be demonstrated that the other individual first threatened to attack or attacked, and the response must be proportional. Consent is another possible defense, meaning the two agreed to engage in something that could lead to injury, such as wrestling. A plea bargain involves a guilty plea to lesser charges and a reduced sentence.

An attorney may assist an individual in preparing a defense strategy if the case is going to court. There may be other avenues for defense. For example, if there are witnesses in an assault case, the strategy may be to demonstrate that their accounts are unreliable. An attorney might also look at how the investigation was conducted and if the person’s rights were violated in some way. For example, evidence gathered as part of an illegal search-and-seizure may be dismissed.