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Is there a difference between assault and battery?

On Behalf of | Mar 7, 2023 | Criminal Defense

People sometimes refer to assault and battery as a singular charge, as if both words mean the same thing.

This is a misconception, as there are some major differences between assault and battery. That difference is usually whether or not physical contact was made.

An assault does not require contact

The thing to remember is that an assault could be something as simple as a credible threat of violence. That actual violence does not have to take place for assault charges to be pressed. The alleged victim simply has to believe that they are honestly in danger of being injured.

For example, someone could be charged with assault for claiming that they are going to kill someone during a fight and then pulling out a knife, even if they never touch them with the knife and the altercation is resolved. By making a credible threat with a dangerous weapon, they’ve already committed an assault.

Battery, on the other hand, refers to the physical actions that may take place after that threat

So someone who makes a threat and then does attack another individual could be charged with assault and battery. But that does not mean a person who makes a threat and then refrains from committing the attack won’t be charged with anything. They may not be guilty of battery, but they could still be charged with assault.

As you can see, misconceptions about the law can be very problematic for those facing charges. Seek help to know exactly what legal options you have and what steps you can take.