All of us have heard the common phrase, “You’re under arrest for assault and battery” in movies or any common TV series. Many people do not know that these are two separate legal terms and that they constitute a completely different meanings. In this article, we will be discussing the difference between the two terms, assault, and battery. The legal provision and penalties will be discussed as well.
Difference Between Assault and Battery
Although both assault and battery constitute a criminal offense. They are not the same. “The main difference between a battery charge and an assault charge is the actual presence of harm and the threat of harm. Someone can only be charged with battery if they have caused real physical harm to someone, while a person can be charged with assault if the mere threat of harm is present. Since the charges are distinct, they each have their own set of penalties, should a conviction occur. However, someone facing either charge could be subject to fines as well as a jail sentence. Fortunately, it is possible to fight against criminal charges with the help of a defense attorney.”
So simply put, Battery includes the use of physical force on someone without any proper reasoning. There must be a physical touch involved and there has to be an intention to harm the other person. Whilst the assault is a mere attempt to commit battery. For example – threatening a person to shoot them. Therefore, a mere trepidation of threat or danger is sufficient enough for an act to constitute an assault. In England, “the civil-law countries, and some American states define certain types of assault (such as assault with a deadly weapon or with the intent to commit robbery or rape) as “aggravated assault.” The resulting battery is also called aggravated, and both crimes are assigned higher penalties than regular assault and battery.”
Note that about the use of force or violence, any harmful or offensive touching is generally enough to give rise to an assault charge. The slightest touching will count if it is done rudely or offensively.
Assault charges can even occur if the touching involved did not or could not cause any sort of physical injury. “Further, the actual touching does not have to be direct. It can be done indirectly by causing an object to touch the “victim.”
Assault violations are typically charged as misdemeanor offenses. The crime is often punishable by:
- imprisonment in jail (as opposed to state prison) for up to six months, and/or
- a maximum fine of $1,000.
Some states have different degrees of assault, such as first, second, and even third-degree assault.
Note that aggravated assault offenses are more violent crimes than simple assaults. Examples of this form of assault include:
Simple batteries normally get charged as misdemeanor offenses. “States typically punish offenders with:
- up to six months of jail time, and/or
- substantial fines.
The Model Penal Code “calls both crimes assault, simple and aggravated (Model Penal Code § 211.1). The criminal act element required for battery in most jurisdictions is unlawful touching, often described as physical contact (720 ILCS § 12-3, 2011).”
Battery: “At early common law, the battery was a purposeful or knowing touching. Many states follow the common-law approach and require specific intent or purposely, or general intent or knowingly (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 784.03, 2011). Others include reckless intent (K.S.A. § 21-3412, 2011), or negligent intent (R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-5-2.2, 2011). Jurisdictions that include reckless or negligent intent generally require actual injury, serious bodily injury, or the use of a deadly weapon. The Model Penal Code requires purposely, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury to another, or negligently causing “bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon” (Model Penal Code § 211.1(1) (b)). If negligent intent is not included in the battery statute, certain conduct that causes injury to the victim may not be criminal.”
Defenses that can be taken: “In addition to consent, there is also justification and excuse defenses to a battery that Chapter 5 “Criminal Defenses, Part 1” and Chapter 6 “Criminal Defenses, Part 2” discuss in detail. To summarize and review, the justification defenses to the battery are self-defense, defense of property and habitation, and the lawful apprehension of criminals. An excuse defense to a battery that Chapter 6 “Criminal Defenses, Part 2” explores is the insanity defense. One other excuse defense to the battery is the reasonable discipline of a child by a parent that is generally regulated by statute and varies from state to state.”
- Assault: “Snider is walking down a city street carrying a bottle of soda. Mantle, walking along the same street in the opposite direction, sees Snider approaching. Because of Snider’s reputation as a hothead, Mantle immediately becomes fearful that Snider will swing the bottle at him when their paths cross. As they walk past each other, nothing happens. Snider has not committed an assault. Snider has a right to carry a bottle of soda in public, and Mantle’s fear of being hit was not the result of Snyder’s intentionally threatening behavior. But now assume that, as they draw closer, Snider draws back his fist and tells Mantle “You’re going to pay for stealing my collection of baseball pennants.” As Snider begins to swing his fist in Mantle’s direction, Mantle sprints away and escapes harm. Here, Snider has committed an assault. His intentional conduct placed Mantle in reasonable fear of immediate bodily harm.”
- Aggravated Assault: “Alyssa is walking alone late at night when a man suddenly jumps in front of her and drags her into the bushes. The man strikes her a couple of times and begins to rip at her clothes. Fortunately, Alyssa strikes the attacker with a rock and runs away to safety. The attacker is guilty of aggravated assault because the circumstances indicate that he assaulted Alyssa with the intent of raping her.”
- Other assault classifications: “As an alternative to classifying assaults as either simple or aggravated, some states recognize the different levels of harm that they can cause by classifying them as first- (most serious), second-, or third-degree (less serious) assaults.”
 Understanding The Difference Between Assault And Battery (lomtl.com)  assault and battery | law | Britannica  Assault vs Battery – What is the Difference? (shouselaw.com)  See State Vs. Murphy, 500 P.2d 1276 (1972).  Refer the same Footnote 4.  Supra 3.  Assault vs Battery – What is the Difference? (shouselaw.com)  Assault vs Battery – What is the Difference? (shouselaw.com)  10.2 Assault and Battery – Criminal Law (umn.edu)  Ibid.  Supra 12.  Differences Between Assault, Battery, and Aggravated Assault | Nolo  Ibid.  Supra 9.