What Is the Difference Between Assault and Battery?

About 627 assault and battery crimes out of every 1,000 get reported to the police. One reason for this is that people don’t realize that what they’ve experienced is a crime. This leads to a lack of accountability for those who commit these crimes. 

The best thing you can do is educate yourself on the law. This starts by understanding the difference between assault and battery. 

Read this guide and learn about the law and how it could apply to your life. 

What Is Assault

An assault is committed when someone threatens bodily harm that instills reasonable fear of harm in the victim. This definition of assault assumes that battery is a separate crime. 

In other jurisdictions, an assault has a broad definition. In these jurisdictions, assault is any intentional physical contact with the victim without their consent. This means that assault and battery are combined. 

To prove that you are the victim of an assault, you need to prove three elements. 

  1. An intentional and unlawful threat 
  2. An apparent ability to fulfill that threat
  3. Creation of apprehension in the victim of imminent danger 

These elements can vary, depending on the jurisdiction that you’re in. These are general guidelines that most follow. 

What Is Battery

A battery is the actual physical harm to the victim. It can be even a minor touching as long as it results in pain, harm, and offense to the victim. 

To prove that you are a victim of a battery, you must prove three elements. 

  1. The defendant committed an act. 
  2. The defendant had the intent to cause harm or offensive contact with the victim. 
  3. A harmful or offensive contact took place with you, the victim.

Like the elements of assault, the elements of a battery can vary from one jurisdiction to the next. 

How Assault and Battery Work Together 

In some jurisdictions, assault and battery get charged to the defendant together. This is because, most of the time, the perpetrator does something threatening to the victim before the actual harm. 

Most states have varying degrees of assault and battery. The majority of states have three degrees of assault and battery. These can be referred to as aggravated assault or first, second, and third degree. 

Difference Between Assault and Battery

The most significant difference between an assault and a battery is the physical contact. Someone can commit both or one of these crimes. 

Someone could commit just an assault by threatening harm and causing that fear in the victim without actually causing the harm. To commit both by threatening, then following through with that threat. To only commit a battery, the defendant could attack the victim from behind, so the victim never sees the impending attack. 

Know and Understand the Law 

Now that you understand the difference between assault and battery, you can stand up for your rights. If you think you are a victim, then it’s smart to speak with an attorney. They will have a better understanding of the law that applies to your jurisdiction. 

Check out our other articles for more helpful advice and explanations to your burning questions. 

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