4 Important Legal Differences Between Assault and Battery

When you see the terms assault and battery, you probably assume they are the same crime. However, they are not. There are several important differences between the two. It’s important to know the legal differences between assault and battery so you’ll know how to protect yourself if ever charged with a crime. If you or someone you know has been charged with assault or battery, here are four key legal differences to keep in mind that could play a critical role in how the case plays out in court.

1- Threat vs. Actual Infliction of Harm

The biggest difference between assault and battery involves whether actual physical harm took place during the incident. Though an assault can involve physical contact between individuals, it is more likely you would be charged with battery if you made actual physical contact with a person to inflict harm or serious injury.

2- A Physical Fight vs. the Person’s Perception

To be charged with battery, you would have to commit an act that involves physical contact with another person that results in a serious injury. However, you should keep in mind that if you pull what you consider to be a joke on another person or intimidate them in any manner that causes them to be fearful, you could technically be arrested for assault.

3- Law Enforcement Intervention

Once you have been charged with battery, this means another person has already been injured and that there is little if any doubt that your actions were the cause of their injuries. However, assault charges are different. Since an assault can occur without any actual physical harm taking place, this means law enforcement officers can intervene before people get hurt. Doing so can increase the chances of you avoiding charges altogether or having any charges levied against you reduced as part of a plea deal. Should what started as an assault escalate to battery, it is possible you could go from what may have been a simple misdemeanor charge to one that is now a high-degree felony charge.

4- Simple vs. Aggravated

You must also keep in mind that assault and battery charges can carry significant penalties based on whether you are charged with an act that is considered to be simple or aggravated from a legal standpoint. For example, you could be charged with simple assault if you spit on someone, throw hot coffee at them, or raise your fist as if you are going to strike them. As for aggravated battery charges, examples of this would be inappropriately touching another person without their consent, even if they are fully clothed, hitting them with an open or closed hand, or picking up an object and using it to strike another person.

It is far easier for a criminal defense lawyer to defend you from assault charges instead of battery charges, since a disagreement that is construed as an assault may be chalked up to a misunderstanding between individuals where nobody got physically harmed. By keeping these and other key differences in mind, you may be able to avoid life-altering legal consequences as your case progresses.



Alex is the co-author of 100 Greatest Plays, 100 Greatest Cricketers, 100 Greatest Films and 100 Greatest Moments. He has written for a wide variety of publications including The Observer, The Sunday Times, The Daily Mail, The Guardian and The Telegraph.

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