A clear and easy to understand definition of simple assault is provided in Title 16,
Section 16-5-20, Georgia Code:
A person commits the offense of simple assault when he or she either:
Physical Contact Is Not Required:
Contrary to popular belief, an assault does not require physical contact. What is required is an act on the defendant’s part that places the victim in fear of imminent danger or harm. If the victim believes that the defendant had the apparent present ability to inflict harm, then the elements of assault are satisfied. An assault must be accompanied by an act. Therefore, words, alone, without an act, do not satisfy the requirements for an assault.
An assault requires intent on the part of the defendant. This means that the defendant must deliberately and unjustifiably interfere with the victim in such a way that the victim is harmed or believes that s/he will be harmed by offensive conduct.
Assault is commonly charged as a criminal offense. Civil cases for monetary damages are less frequent, usually because the defendant does not have the resources to satisfy a monetary judgment. If a defendant does have resources, a victim is more likely to sue for assault.