In certain states, assault and battery are often filed together because battery cannot be committed without assaulting the offended party. Assault is a lesser crime than battery because the latter involves inflicting actual harm to the offended party.
Assault is a crime that is defined as an attempt to injure someone else, it may include threats or threatening to injure the other person. There is an intent to commit assault or actually harm the other person by use of force or violence that makes a reasonable person to fear for his safety. Spoken words may be considered as assault provided that the offender does overt or direct acts that would make the other person fear of an imminent danger. Assault is often described as the attempted stage of battery. If there has been any physical harm inflicted, the crime would be battery.
Questions to ask whether it is assault or battery:
- Was there any attempt to injure or offend the offended party?
- Was there intent?
- Was the intent of the offender made to offend the other party fear of an imminent danger?
- If words were used to assault the other person, were they threatening?
- After the threats, did the offender commit any attempt to actually harm the offended party?
- Was the offended party actually harmed?
If the answer to all the questions is “YES,” the offended party may file assault and battery charges against the offender. If the answer to question number 6 is “NO,” the offended party may only file assault charges against the offender.
Battery, on the other hand, is a crime that is committed by a person who, through contact or touching, inflicts any physical harm or offense towards another person without the latter’s consent. The intent required is not really to harm the other person; what is required is that the offender intentionally causes the physical contact between him and the victim, for the purposes of harming or offending the latter.
Questions to ask whether it is battery or an accident:
- Was there any physical contact between the offender and the offended party?
- Was there physical harm or offense inflicted?
- Did the offended party consent to the act of the offender?
- Was there any intent on the part of the offender to cause any physical contact between him and the offended party?
If the answer to all the questions is “YES,” the offended party may file battery charges against the offender. However, if the answer to question number 4 is “NO,” the offended party cannot file any charges of battery against the offended party because such physical contact was an accident.
In summary, assault is the act of threatening to harm another person and battery is the actual act of harming him. They are two distinct and separate crimes. If the offender simply threatened to harm the other person, that is considered as assault under our statutes. However, simply uttering threatening words cannot be considered as battery if there were no direct or overt acts by the offender to attempt to cause any harm to the offended party. If there was any actual imminent, harmful or offensive action taken after assaulting the person, such act is battery.