Differences Between Assault and Battery

Differences Between Assault and Battery

Although the two are commonly used in a single phrase, assault and battery are two distinct charges that can be leveled against a person. Under the United States criminal codes, the penalties for assault and battery are different as well as the standards for each. However, as they are similar enough, these charges are often brought together in order to adequately describe the fullness of a person’s criminal actions.

According to the law, assault is defined as willful intent or threatening to cause bodily harm to another person. In addition, negligent damages can be classified under counts of assault, not battery. On the other hand, battery is more definitively characterized by actual violent contact between at least two parties.

These charges can commonly be turned in aggravated assault and battery essentially due to an increased intensity of a crime. For example, making a threat against someone’s health may be grounds for an assault charge, while making a threat against someone’s health while wielding a deadly weapon may be grounds for an aggravated assault charge.

Ultimately, the difference between the two remains whether or not contact was actually made. This difference, coupled with the intent of the crime, changes the severity of punishment drastically. Although most assault and battery charges are considered misdemeanors, aggravated battery in particular is often considered to be a felony.

Assault, in particular, largely depends on a prosecutor proving that a person intended on causing harm to another. Unlike battery, this crime can occasionally be dismissed altogether if the prosecutor cannot prove intent.

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If you have an interest in how assault and battery work in our modern criminal justice system, contact a criminal attorney.