A guilty plea was in the cards in the case of the retired doctor who tackled Kentucky Senator Rand Paul to the ground while mowing his lawn. Prosecutors charged Rene Boucher with assaulting a member of Congress resulting in a personal injury, a felony under federal law.

Hostile feelings

Paul suffered various injuries from an incident that occurred on Nov. 3, including multiple rib fractures and pneumonia treatment following the incident, according to court records. Boucher denies that the attack was not politically motivated. This episode appears to be a case of a property dispute that finally exploded. The federal charge against Boucher carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Carelessness vs. intent

Intentional torts, or assault cases, are not based on accidents caused by negligence but instead intent. When one person harms another with the decided goal being to cause damage, the act is considered purposeful. An assault is a purposeful act that places another person in harm’s way, whether or not injury occurs. Many intentional torts are also crimes. The difference between the two is slight but crucial. A tort can result in a civil suit which is a lawsuit brought by one citizen against another. If the suit is lost, the person may be found liable and responsible for paying monetary damages to the other party.

Senator Paul’s assailant has pleaded guilty. With the result favoring Senator Paul, it’s an excellent example of when an intentional tort could also be considered a crime.