Assault and battery are two of the most common criminal charges individuals face. They’re often used interchangeably but are two distinct charges with different legal penalties and implications. Understanding the difference between them can potentially help people avoid certain situations where they can be charged with both offenses. This post will provide an explanation of the differences and what to do if you’re charged with one or both.
Basics of Assault
Assault is technically defined as an intentional threat or act that causes another person to fear imminent bodily harm. Like most crimes, intent matters, so a key component is that the perpetrator intended to cause fear, and the victim had a very real reason to believe that they were in danger of bodily harm. Examples of assault can include threatening someone verbally while physically gesturing or holding a weapon in a way that suggests that they will be attacked. Assault is considered a second-degree misdemeanor and carries a penalty of up to 60 days in jail with a potential fine of up to $500.
Basics of Battery
In the simplest terms: battery is the physical manifestation of assault and carries more severe penalties. It’s the intentional use of force against another person with the intent to cause bodily harm. Just like assault, intent matters, so bumping into someone on accident does not constitute battery. However, battery can include intentionally punching, kicking, or physically fighting someone, and in some cases, intentionally spitting or coughing on someone is also considered battery. Battery is a first-degree misdemeanor that is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
Although at their most basic level, both battery and assault are misdemeanors, the consequences can change depending on the alleged victim and whether a weapon was being used at the time. For example, if an assault involves the use of a deadly weapon or results in serious injury, it can be considered a third-degree felony, which is punishable by up to 5 years in prison, up to a $5,000 fine, and up to 5 years probation. What constitutes a “deadly weapon” is also up for debate. Still, it can be easily argued that with the correct amount of force, anything could be considered “deadly,” which is why it’s important to have an excellent attorney on your side.
In addition to the potential criminal penalties, assault and/or battery convictions can significantly impact a person’s life both practically and socially. A criminal record can make it difficult to find employment, housing, or even educational opportunities. It can also impact a person’s ability to obtain or maintain a professional license. Moreover, if you have previous convictions on your record, the penalties are even more severe.
No one is immune to the possibility of a criminal charge. Misunderstandings can lead to people becoming defensive, and even legitimate self-defense claims can become complicated with bystanders that are too quick to judge by someone’s appearance or mannerisms. The right attorney will fight to provide you with the best possible outcome with the empathy and dedication you deserve.
If you or someone you know is accused of assault, battery, or both, it’s important to act as quickly as possible. Our team can provide professional guidance and an aggressive defense to help you get your life back to normal as quickly as possible. Call the office of Malcolm Anthony, P.A. at 904-285-4529 today for a free consultation.