Legal Lessons: Assault and Battery Explained

Published: 17th July 2009
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Because they are so often used in conjunction with one another, "assault" and "battery" are mistaken by many people as synonymous terms. In reality, however, assault and battery are two very different, if often combined, charges. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the case, a charge of assault could carry a relatively light sentence while a combined charge of assault and battery could result in prison time for the criminally accused. Whatever the charge, representation from an experienced criminal defense attorney is almost certainly in the best interests of anyone charged with a serious crime.

Assault is confused by many people as an actual attack; however, assault occurs at the very instance of the threat of attack. If the assaulter has the ability to carry through with his or her threat, then the threat in itself may be sufficient grounds for a charge of assault. Likewise, if the assaulter attempts to strike another person but fails, he or she may still be found guilty of assault, especially if the attempt to injure involved the use of a deadly weapon such as a firearm. One of the most common forms of assault is aggravated assault, in which an act of violence occurs during an attempt to commit another crime, such as robbery.

Battery is defined as the purposeful act of striking someone with the intent to cause injury. A person accused of battery does not have to have caused significant injury in order to be charged with the crime; however, there must be evidence that the intent to cause harm was present. An injury caused by negligent behavior cannot serve as the basis of a battery charge. For example, someone who strikes another person with a speeding car cannot be charged with battery.

Obviously, when the two charges are combined, the penalty is likely to be harsher. In addition, victims of assault and/or battery may choose to pursue a civil action against the responsible party, seeking compensation for losses or expenses incurred by his or her injury.

If you are accused of assault and battery, experienced criminal defense lawyers can help. Individuals facing felony or misdemeanor charges should seek legal representation as soon as possible.

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