Assault and battery are actually two different actions that may or may not be combined into one criminal or civil charge. Many definitions of assault and battery simplify these actions by stating that “battery” is the touching of someone else, without their consent, in a manner that is harmful or offensive.  “Assault” is an unsuccessful attempt at battery. While this is partially true, these offenses are more complicated than the above definition implies.

Understanding Assault
No physical contact is required for an assault to occur.  If a person is threatened with harm, and the person making the threat has the reasonable ability to act on the threatening actions, then that could constitute assault. The threat of harm must be immediate.

Here’s an example, if a large, menacing man yells that he’s going to “beat you up” and steps toward you with a raised fist, then an assault occurred. Whether the man actually plans to carry out the threat or not is irrelevant. You believe that he could do so, and you felt that you were in immediate harms way. This is an assault.

Understanding Battery
Battery is when harmful or offensive physical contact occurs between two people. Let’s continue the example of the large, menacing man from above. If that man threatens you, then swings his fist and misses hitting you, he still has only committed assault. If he swings and makes contact with you, then battery has occurred and he can be charged with both assault and battery.

However, battery doesn’t always have to involve physical harm, and it can be seemingly unintentional. Here’s another example. Let’s say a man has been drinking at a bar while watching his favorite sports team. In celebrating an exciting win, he grabs the woman closest to him and plants a kiss on her. Since she did not consent to the kiss, and found it offensive, the man has technically committed a battery offense. He consciously made the decision to grab the woman and give her a kiss without asking her permission.

Battery involves making a conscious decision. Accidental contact with another person doesn’t count. Take this situation. A young man is on a crowded bus and is pushed from behind. He puts his hand out to prevent a fall and accidentally lands on the chest of a female rider.While the contact may have been offensive, the young man did not commit battery as he did not mean to touch the woman but was simply trying to stop a fall.

Two People. Two Different Charges.
Assault and battery charges are often combined. It is possible to be in a situation where one person is a victim of assault and another person is a victim of battery. Here’s another example using the large, menacing man from the examples above. Let’s say you’re in a group of people when the man threatens you. As he gets ready to swing a punch your way,  he hits another person in the group. You are a victim of an assault. The person who was actually hit, is a victim of battery because physical contact was actually made.

Consult an Attorney if You’re a Victim of Assault or Battery
A District Attorney for the state handles any criminal charges that may be a result of an assault or battery. Individuals who suffer any significant harm as a result of either of these actions also have the right to file a civil suit in order to collect for any medical bills, loss of work, and pain and suffering.

Consulting an attorney with experience in criminal or personal injury law (both of which Hall & Green do), as soon as possible after the attack, will allow the attorney to look into the circumstances surrounding the assault and battery. An attorney can help determine if the person facing these charges against you has insurance or money to pay for the damages you have suffered. In addition, the lawyer can help protect your rights and advocate on your behalf as you build a civil case against the defendant.

Consult an Attorney If You’re Charged with Assault and Battery
If you’ve been charged with committing assault and/or battery, it is vital that you consult with a criminal attorney immediately.

Our experienced lawyers can help gather information surrounding the event’s circumstances, identify witnesses who may testify in your favor and mount a defense that could keep you out of jail and from having a criminal record.

There are a number of defenses to assault and battery charges:

Self-defense: This involves a case where you may have been assaulted by another person and used physical force to protect yourself from harm.

Defense on Behalf of Another: This defense is used when you see another person being assaulted and have a reasonable fear that a battery is about to be committed and rush to defend them.

Protection of Property: You can use reasonable force to protect your property from the actions of another person.

Consent: If the person who claims to be the victim of the assault or battery charges admits that any action was consensual, then you may be able to show no crime was committed.

There are different levels of battery.  Our attorneys can explain your charges, and may be able to get your charges reduced to a lesser charge even if you’re actually guilty of the crime . This may result in  reduced jail time and help prevent you from having a more serious criminal record.

A civil attorney is also an important resource if you’ve been accused of assault and battery.  Our attorneys can help represent your interest, potentially saving you from paying out thousands of dollars in damages, impacting your long-term financial security.

Contact us today for a free consultation