Although the terms assault and battery are often used together and sound alike, they are really two things. Assault is one thing, and battery is another, and people can be charged with one or both depending on what happened. To clear up the confusion around these two serious criminal charges, read below.
Two Separate Offenses
When you hear of someone being charged with assault and battery, it's like being charged with driving under the influence (DUI) and resisting arrest – it's two different charges. What that means for defendants is the charges must be dealt with separately (in most cases).
What Is the Difference?
They may seem like the same thing until you realize that assault doesn't require physical contact. In other words, you can assault someone without touching them. Here is what else to know about the differences between the two charges:
- Assault makes the victim feel threatened, but battery makes the threat a reality.
- To rise to the level of assault, the verbal message to an alleged victim must be unmistakeably clear. The victim will be convinced that a physical attack is not only eminent but that the offender is perfectly capable of carrying out such an attack.
- On the other hand, battery involves unwanted physical contact of any kind.
- An assault can stand alone. For instance, one party may raise their fist and say something threatening.
- A battery can also stand alone when someone suddenly punches another in the face.
- Examples of assault include brandishing a weapon, raising fists, making threats.
- Examples of battery include any type of physical attack, spitting on someone, throwing something at someone with the intention of doing harm, etc.
Understanding the Legal Consequences
Assault and battery are serious crimes, but physically violent offenses like battery tend to be considered worst. Both can be charged as a misdemeanor but, in certain circumstances, may be charged as a felony. In some states, prior convictions of battery might be a felony that includes prison time. The presence of a weapon with an assault charge might turn things into an aggravated assault, which is a felony. Older, younger, or pregnant victims can also elevate things to the felony level.
Even if you were lucky and ended up with misdemeanor assault and or battery charges, you can still face jail time, huge fines, and a permanent criminal record. Contact a criminal defense lawyer immediately to begin planning your defense.