Assault and Battery Details

Assault is intentionally causing another person to reasonably fear imminent physical harm (or it can be described as an attempt to commit battery). Battery is the unlawful/unwanted use of physical force on another person. The legal system acknowledges a crime if there is an intentional attack that physically harms another and the threat of an attack. The concepts of assault and battery are intended to protect the individual from undesired physical contact or force and the fear thereof. The crime, depending on its nature, can be classified as assault, battery, or both.

No minimum degree of force is needed to constitute a battery as long as physical contact is involved, even through mere touch. While everyday unavoidable touching of strangers is considered consensual and not defined as assault, fighting can lead to an assault charge even if participants entered the act willingly. An accident, or unintentional action, that results in injury is not punishable as assault or battery unless gross criminal negligence is involved.

It is not assault and battery if a person causes harm to another through self-defense. A person is allowed to use any means necessary, including deadly force, to subdue an attacker when they feel the attacker is threatening their life.

Assault and Battery Example

Jim's neighbor Michael is known for his temper. They have had a series of volatile confrontations in the past where Jim has witnessed his aggressive attitude. So when Jim sees Michael walking down the street holding a glass drinking bottle, he becomes fearful that Michael might take a swing at him. Since an intentional threat from Michael is not causing Jim's fear, Michael has not committed assault.

However, if Michael starts to swing the bottle at Jim while shouting threats about their previous argument, which causes Jim to flee to avoid physical harm, Michael has committed assault. If Michael, while swinging the bottle towards Jim, ends up striking Jim, then this is a case of assault and battery.

Miranda is walking home one night when a man grabs her and pulls her towards the bushes attempting to pin her down and rip her clothes off. However, Miranda picks up a rock and manages to hit her attacker over the head and escape. The attacker has committed aggravated assault as his intent under the circumstances was to rape Miranda. He could also be charged with battery due to the use of force he used against Miranda. In this case, although the assault occurred under aggravating circumstances, the battery did not. If the attacker in this scenario had a gun, then the crime would escalate to aggravated assault and battery.

Types of Assault and Battery

Criminal Laws can classify assaults and battery as simple or aggravated depending on the legal system. The distinction depends on the severity of the crime and whether the accused physically strikes the victim, indicating a battery, and the circumstances surrounding the incident. Simple assault pertains closely to the definition stated above, whereby the assault is defined as a reasonable threat, but the attacker does not inflict bodily harm.

Aggravated assault refers to an assault with aggravating circumstances that may involve a weapon or the intent to commit a serious crime. The sentencing of aggravated assault and battery is usually harsher than simple assault and battery.

Alternatively, assault and battery can be classified by three different levels of severity, in that first-degree assault and battery is the most serious and the most minor being third degree.