What Is An Assault, And How Is It Different From A Battery?

Anyone who has spent any amount of time in front of a television, or at the movies, has probably heard the legal phrase “assault and battery.” This phrase is commonly used to describe an incident where one person causes physical harm to another person. But in reality, these are two different crimes, and if you have been charged with assault and battery, it is important to know the distinction.

The word “assault” sounds like a physical act, and one that causes injury. The truth is that an assault does not necessarily have to be physical, the key is that the act (or word used) create a threat of imminent danger. Whether there was actually any imminent danger to the person assaulted is measured in terms of what the “victim” thought might happen. An assault is usually a lesser charge than the charge of battery, which is the actual act of causing harm. When trying to determine the difference between an assault and a battery, it can help to think of it like this:

• An assault is the threat to do harm that is made, which can be by the words used or actions that fall just short of inflicting an injury.
• A battery is the actual act that carries through with what was threatened.

Because the battery is what actually causes an injury, it is usually the more serious of the charges. In order to develop an effective defense, it is crucial to examine all of the facts of your case, and emphasize those that cast your behavior and actions in a favorable light. For an assault charge to stick, it is not necessary that you actually followed through with the threat, just that the person claiming to have been threatened thought you would do so. As you can imagine, defending this type of charge requires taking testimony from your accuser and arguing whether what you said or did was likely to cause a fear of harm. As for the battery portion of the case, some physical evidence of an injury is usually needed in order for a conviction to be made. If you have been charged with assault and /or battery, you need to act fast to get a qualified defense attorney in your corner. The sooner you start to investigate the facts of your case, against the legal backdrop, the sooner a viable defense will begin to emerge.

If you have questions about assault and battery or other criminal cases, call our office for answers. Call an experienced criminal defense attorney in Key West.