Understanding the Difference Between Assault and Battery

Most people have heard of being charged with assault and battery. It is commonly referenced on television shows and in movies, which leads people to think that it is just a fancy legal term used when someone physically attacks another. The reality is, however, that assault and battery are actually two separate charges, which don’t always go together. This blog post explains the difference between the two.

What is assault?

One does not ever need to touch or cause any physical harm to another party to be charged with assault. Assault is the threat of battery, with the means to carry out the threat. For example, if someone has a baseball bat and is yelling at another party that they will hit them with it, and makes threatening gestures with the bat, this could very well be considered assault. The victim of assault has to have a reasonable fear that harm is imminent.

The fact that there must be a reasonable potential of imminent injury is what separates assault from a simple threat. For example, one can’t be convicted with assault if they make a threat of bodily injury over the phone or online because these threats are not immediate (though they may be charged with other things).

What is battery?

Battery is any act of touching another (with hands or other objects) without permission. Even if the touching doesn’t result in any significant physical harm, one can still be convicted of battery. For example, if someone is in an argument with another party and pokes the person in the chest while talking, that is battery. Another example would be if someone is attempting to walk away from a confrontation and the other party grabs their arm to pull them back. Of course, physically hitting someone or attacking them in other ways will also result in a battery charge.

Potential Penalties

The potential penalties for both assault and battery will depend largely on the circumstances involved with the event that resulted in the charges. The following are some key things that will impact the potential penalties:

  • Severity of Situation – For assault, making threatening gestures with your hands will come with a less severe penalty than swinging a knife at someone. For battery, simply poking someone would be far less severe than hitting them with a weapon.
  • Family Member – When the assault or battery is done against a family member it becomes a domestic violence situation, which can dramatically impact the penalties.
  • Hate Crimes – If the motivation behind the assault or battery is hatred because of race, gender, sexual orientation, or other protected class, the penalties can be more severe.
  • Other Factors – The courts can take other factors specific to the situation into account when determining what penalties are appropriate.
Get the Help You Need

Both assault and battery are very serious charges that need to be handled properly. If you or a loved one has been charged with assault and/or battery, you will want to partner with a defense attorney to represent your interests. Please contact Drucker & Mattia to discuss your situation and begin the process of crafting a strong defense right away.

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When you’re facing legal issues or pursuing a lawsuit, skilled legal counsel makes a big difference. At Drucker & Mattia, PLLC, we specialize in a wide range of legal areas to meet the needs of a diverse client base.

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