The Difference Between Assault and Battery

If you’ve ever watched a crime show on TV you’ve probably heard the term “assault and battery.” While it is true that these two charges are related and often come together, did you know that they can actually be two separate crimes depending on the jurisdiction in which the case occurs and will be tried?

There is a misconception that assault and battery are always the same thing, but there are some key differences between the two.

In general, an assault is a threat to harm someone, but the actor must have the present ability to carry out the threat. For example, if someone threatens another person on the phone and says, “I’m going to punch you in the face!” it would not necessarily be assault, because they do not have the present ability to follow through on the threat. Conversely, if the actor is standing in front of a person, and states, “I’m going to punch you in the face!” then it is assault because the present ability to carry out the threat exists.

Battery is the actual act of physically touching someone against their will. It does not require that an injury be inflicted. So, threatening to punch someone in the face would be assault, and actually punching someone in the face would be battery. Both assault and battery are typically charged as misdemeanor offenses.

However, both assault and battery can be “aggravated.” That is, if a weapon is used, or physical injury is inflicted, the severity of the crime increases, and it is usually reclassified as a felony offense. For example, if the actor has a gun, points it at the victim and states, “I’m going to kill you!”, that is an aggravated assault. In Florida, that crime carries a 3 year minimum mandatory prison sentence upon conviction. If a battery results in a serious bodily injury to the victim, it is punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

When it comes to assault and battery charges, it is important that you hire an attorney who is experienced and understands the many intricacies and variations involved in such cases. If you have been charged with assault, battery, or both, call Barry M. Wax to discuss your options.

Law Offices of Barry M. Wax