In criminal law, assault and battery is a combination of two crimes that generally occur together.
- Assault is an intentional act that causes a fear of imminent harmful or offensive touching. An assault can occur even if the contact never occurs. Since the act must be intentional, an accidental action won't amount to an assault. Also see the article What Is Assault?
- Battery is an intentional physical contact or offensive touching, where the victim has not given consent to be touched. The physical touching must be offensive to a reasonable person. Additional information in this article What is Battery?
The victim of these crimes must also be placed in some kind of fear in which a reasonable person in the same circumstance would be in fear under the circumstances.
What to Do If You Are Accused of Assault and Battery
The penalties for these charges depend on whether you are charged with simple assault or battery or if you are charged with aggravated assault or aggravated battery. The penalty of assault and/or battery depends on the type of harm that was inflicted on the victim. If the victim’s harm resulted in serious injury or if it is determined that the defendant had an intent to kill, the judge has the discretion to lend a harsher penalty and sentence. A judge can also impose a harsher penalty if there is another aggravating factor present, such as a specific identifying aspect of the victim. For ways to defend yourself against such charges, see also our article assault and battery defenses. The consequences for a criminal conviction are:
- It could be on your record for life (see the article clearing a criminal record)
- Parole or probation
- Anger management classes
- Significant fines
- Loss of the right to possess firearms
You Can Also be Held Civilly Liable to the Victim in a Private Lawsuit
You may be forced to pay for the victim's:
- Physical injuries
- Discomfort (pain and suffering)
- Direct out-of-pocket medical expenses
- Expenses incurred for hospital visits
- Prescription drugs
- Lost time from work
- Damages for emotional injuries
Likelihood of any of the above consequences depends on the following factors:
- The severity of the assault and battery
- Attitude of community and court toward this type of crime
- Mitigating/aggravating circumstances
- Prior convictions
- Whether or not a weapon is used
What Are Some Defenses to an Assault and Battery Charge?
Defendants charged with assault and battery can claim self-defense if the defendant was not the initial aggressor and was defending his or herself or another person from an alleged attack. The defendant must prove that he reasonably believed that he was under imminent attack and immediate action was necessary.
Since an element of assault and batter required the defendant’s act to be intentional, other possible defense include that the defendant’s action was not intentional and were accidental.
Other possible defenses include:
- Defense of others
- Factual innocence - it wasn't you
- Lack of intent, such as an accident
- Defense of property
- Lack of mental capacity
Contacting a Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you are accused of an Assault and/or Battery or both, you should speak to a criminal defense lawyer immediately to learn more about your rights, your defenses, and the complicated legal system.
If you are a victim of this type of crime, you should call the police. If there is sufficient evidence, the police will then forward your case to the District Attorney's office to prosecute the person who committed the crime against you. You may also be eligible for compensation as a victim of assault and battery.