Drawing the Line Between Assault and Battery

People often think about a brawl or a fight when they encounter the words assault and battery. While many think that the terms are interchangeable or synonymous, these legal terms are two separate concepts that have distinct elements. Here’s an in-depth look at both offenses.

Image source: smh.com.au

Assault is defined as an attempt to cause injury to someone else. It can be in the form of threats or violent behaviors. Contact is not necessary for assault offense, but a conviction for assault often requires a criminal act that would put the victim in fear for their own safety. The offender must also show an intent to frighten another person for assault charges to be established.

Assault cases come in three degrees. Aggravated assault mainly involves the use of a dangerous weapon. Second-degree assault cases can also involve the use of a weapon, but its level of bodily harm is not as dangerous. Third-degree assaults are usually failed attempts of physical injuries.

Battery can often be mistaken as assault. However, a battery offense does not require an offender to have clear intentions of harming the victim. The only act required for an event to be considered battery is having an offensive or harmful contact. It can be a physical attack like a punch or a kick, or minimal contact like a bump. Spitting on someone can be considered battery, as it provides a form of contact. As long as the contact is deemed as offensive, it can fall under battery.

Image source: rightresponse.org

Michael J. Donohue is a criminal defense lawyer based in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Learn more about battery and assault cases when you visit this blog.


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