Although assault and battery are used interchangeably, the two are distinct charges that carry very different consequences. While assault is the threat of harmful contact, battery is the physical act that results because of it. Out of the two, battery is the more severe charge, and that is reflected in the punishments, which can be up to 15 years in jail and $10,000 in fines. Learn more about the difference between assault and battery below.
Assault is defined as one person’s intentional act that puts another person in reasonable apprehension of imminent harmful or offensive contact. The offense may include a threat through words, gesture, or an intimidating act, but does not need to include physical injury, unlike battery.
Assault can be broken down into three categories (in order of severity): aggravated (first degree), felony (second degree) and simple (third degree). While the definition of each degree varies from state to state, first degree assault (aggravated assault) typically involves a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument while the other two do not. Simple or felony assault may or may not involve minor physical harm.
Battery is an intentional physical act that results in harmful or offensive contact with another person without their consent. Even minimal contact, such as a push or a kick, may be classified as battery depending on your state’s laws.
Simple battery, which is the least severe offense, only requires intentional and unwanted contact between the defendant and the victim. If someone has a previous battery charge and commits simple battery, they may be charged with the more serious felony battery. Aggravated battery involves serious bodily injury, typically with a weapon.
Punishments for Assault and Battery
Depending on circumstances, punishments for assault and battery may vary:
- Simple assault: Up to 60 days in prison and a maximum fine of $500.
- Aggravated assault: Up to 5 years in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000.
- Simple battery: Up to 1 year in prison and a maximum fine of $1,000.
- Felony battery: Up to 5 years in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000.
- Aggravated battery: Up to 15 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Any defendant with prior felony convictions may have jail time and fines increased if they are found to be a future threat or show no remorse for their crimes.
Defenses to Assault and Battery
The most common defenses to assault and battery include mutual consent, self-defense, defense of others, defense of property, and accidents. Mutual consent may be used when an attack isn’t one-sided, such as a street fight. Self-defense also makes a great defense, but only if the force used to defend oneself is proportionate to the assault or battery.Assault and battery can have very serious consequences that may leave a stain on your record. If you or a loved is charged with this type of offense, you should reach out to our Weston criminal defense attorney at the Law Office of Kevin F. Moot. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Contact us today!