What is Assault and Battery? Aggravating Factors and Variations

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What is Assault and Battery?

Assault and battery is actually a combination of two different crimes:  Assault, which is a threat of violence or attempted violence; and Battery, which is the actual act of physical violence and contact.  Some jurisdictions make distinctions between the two and classify them as separate offenses.  

However, in many cases, assault and battery is filed as one charge against the defendant, especially where the threat of violence is immediately followed by an act of violence. 

What is Aggravated Assault and Battery?

Aggravated assault and battery may be found when certain “aggravating factors” are present during the commission of the act.  While criminal laws may vary by jurisdiction, aggravating factors may include the use of a deadly weapon during the commission of the assault and battery.  Another common aggravating factor has to do with the characteristics of the victim(s), such as whether they are a child, woman, or police officer. 

Aggravated assault and battery is generally classified as a felony rather than a misdemeanor.  Felony charges can result in heavy criminal fines and a prison sentence of greater than one year.  Standard criminal defense may apply if available. 

What is Assault and Battery With a Deadly Weapon?

Assault and batter with a deadly weapon is a main example of aggravated charges.  The definition of “deadly weapon” may include:

In jurisdictions that classify assault as a separate offense (i.e., threat of violence), it may not matter whether an actual functional weapon was used to intimidate the victim.  For example, if the victim reasonably believed that a toy gun was real, the defendant may be found guilty of aggravated assault if they knowingly intended to threaten the victim as if it were a real gun. 

What is Assault and Battery Against a Child, Woman, or Police Officer?

Assault and battery against a child, woman, or police officer, is often categorized as “aggravated assault and battery”.  In these types of cases, the offense is considered to be more serious due to the victim’s characteristics, rather than factors such as the use of a weapon. 

Felony charges can also result for assault and battery where there is a serious “mismatch” between the offender and the victim.  For example, if the victim is incapacitated or defenseless, aggravated assault and battery can result, especially where the victim suffered extremely serious bodily harm. 

In other words, courts can sometimes consider factors such as the weight, height, sex, and capabilities of both the aggressor and the victim when issuing a sentence. 

Do I Need a Lawyer for the Various Assault and Battery Charges?

Many people may think that assault and battery is a straight-forward criminal charge, but it can actually be quite complicated.  If you need legal assistance with assault and battery charges, you should contact a criminal defense lawyer right away.  Your attorney can represent you in court during trial and provide legal support in your defense.

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Last Modified: 08-24-2012 12:20 PM PDT

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