The Not-So-Fine Line Between Assault and Battery

The Not-So-Fine Line Between Assault and Battery

Posted By Hunter & Johnson, PLLC || 10-Nov-2015

Usually when someone is arrested after getting into some form of physical altercation, they will be charged with assault and battery. In the world of criminal violations, assault and battery seem to be as inseparable as salt and pepper, peanut butter and jelly, or macaroni and cheese. They are so commonly paired up, it begs the question: are they even separate crimes?

The Differences Between Assault and Battery

In actuality, assault is a separate crime from battery, no matter how often the two come together. So why are the two of them so frequently packaged with one another on charge sheets? It has to do with how they are defined.

  1. Assault: Using language, vocally or bodily, to intimidate, threaten, frighten, coerce, or otherwise display the intent to harm another person. For example, if you looked at someone, raised your fist, and angrily declared that you wanted to punch them, you could be charged with assault.
  2. Battery: The actual act of physically striking someone with the intent to cause pain, harm, or offense. For example, groping someone who does not consent to the physical contact could be regarded as battery, in this case, sexual battery.

Think about most altercations that lead to an arrest. It is extremely unlikely that someone would just run up and kick or punch someone without warning or provocation. Instead, fights tend to start with heated arguments and verbal boasting. The sequence of events, when broken down, is actually assault that leads to battery. If you wanted to be technical about the charges, it should be called “assault then battery.” Thus, assault actually does occur often without battery, but battery very rarely occurs without assault.

Criminal Defense Lawyers in Washington, D.C.

Do you need strong legal defense after being arrested for assault, battery, or assault and battery charges in Washington D.C.? While understanding the specifics of your alleged crimes certainly helps you, you may need to also retain the services of a professional criminal defense attorney. Call 202.759.7929 to schedule a case evaluation with the legal team at Hunter & Johnson, PLLC today.

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