What is the Difference between Assault and Battery?
Assault and battery are often listed together on websites of legal firms, so it may seem that they represent a single crime. Theoretically, assault and battery are two different terms, which cannot be used interchangeably. Despite being mentioned together on a frequent basis, most states consider them as two separate offenses; certain jurisdictions tend to pair the crimes with each other, as they emerge from similar situations. An individual is charged with assault if he/she purposely threatens or attempts to harm someone, i.e. the recipient has good reason to fear a bodily injury. On the other hand, the individual shall be charged with battery when he/she intentionally acts upon the intentions and exercises actual physical harm.
Criminal Defense Attorney in Sacramento, CA, claims that either crime can be classified as a misdemeanor or felony, depending upon the degree of severity. Both assault and battery are violent crimes, which may result in heavy fines and indefinite jail time.
Differentiating between Assault and Battery
To understand the difference between assault and battery more clearly, let us look at an example. Sam and Bobby are two auto mechanics working at the same workshop, but they never get along because they see each other as competition. One day Sam gets very angry and threatens to harm Bobby, whilst holding a large screwdriver. If the threat was verbal and he proceeds to put the tool down afterwards, it is an assault. If Sam swung the screwdriver at Bobby, but he dodged and escaped, it is still an assault as the recipient wasn’t hurt. On the contrary, if Bobby was stabbed, the crime has progressed to battery.
Types of Assault
- Simple Assault – When a person threatens to harm the other, without attempting any physical contact. The person may do so verbally or by using another intimidating gesture, such as blocking someone’s way. If he/she is armed, but does not point or raise the weapon/object at the opponent, it still qualifies as a simple assault.
- Aggravated Assault – The situation where a person uses a potentially lethal weapon to terrorize another party. The offender may possess a gun, knife, or any other sharp/heavy object that could inflict injury. Merely advancing with the weapon or being guilty of a failed attempt is subject to an aggravated assault, as physical harm was highly likely to occur in both cases.
- Sexual Assault – Words or actions that may lead to the occurrence of sexual harassment or rape. If physical contact is attempted, but the victim manages to flee, a sexual assault is applicable here as well.
Types of Battery
- Simple Battery – Any forceful physical contact without the other person’s consent is categorized as a simple or second-degree battery. The interaction does not necessarily have to cause any bodily harm. For example, spitting in someone’s face does not cause him/her any injury or pain, but physical contact was established. Other conditions include that no harmful weapons were involved and any wounds inflicted were minor. If the touch was unintentional, then the person cannot be convicted.
- Aggravated Battery – A physical attack that utilized a dangerous weapon or resulted in colossal damage, such as deep injuries, disfigurement, burns, or a permanent disability
- Domestic Abuse Battery – Physical violence against any family member such as a partner or children, are included in this category.
- Sexual Battery – Sexual harassment that includes contact with intimate parts, or nonconsensual sex/rape.
- Battery against Special Victims – Patients that face unethical physical implications from their caregivers. This may include potential molestation or harsh handling, which cannot be justified by their condition.
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