Originally Posted by Kimmy_Gibbler
Ahem, check you Vosberg v. Putney and Garrett v. Dailey. Intentional torts require general intent, i.e., the intent to perform the act which, incidentally, would cause a reasonable person to experience the apprehension of an imminent harmful or offensive contact.
It does not require special intent, i.e., the particular motivation to cause such apprehension.
The difference: assault is completed if I voluntarily and deliberately point a handgun at you, even if I truly didn't mean to alarm you. The only thing that needs to be intended is the act that causes the fear, not any particular effect of that act.
I may get hoisted on my own petard here yet again, but I don't believe those cases state a "general intent." Yes, assault can be an act that not specifically intended to create fear but with a "substantial certainty" will create that fear is an assault (intent is assumed).
But under your description, an act of negligence could be considered assault and/or battery. To use your example, instead of pointing the handgun at me, you point it at a squirrel standing 5 feet to right of me (in a suburban area) and fire. You put me in fear of imminent harmful touching, and you intended to shoot. But you didn't intend to shoot ME. I don't think that would be assault in any jurisdiction.
I am ready to be hoisted.