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What is Battery?

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What is Battery?

Battery is a type of criminal charge that involves the unauthorized application of force against another person’s body, which results in offensive touching or actual physical injury.  In most instances, battery will result in misdemeanor criminal charges. 

This means that battery is usually punishable by criminal fees and/or actual time spent in jail (usually less than one year).  More serious forms of battery, or repeat instances of battery may result in more serious legal consequences, and can often result in felony charges instead of simple misdemeanor charges.

Is Battery Separate From Assault?

Some jurisdictions define assault as an attempted battery, or as the intentional creation of a fear of harm in the victim.  As such, battery charges are almost always grouped together with assault into a single charge, which is labeled, “assault and battery”. 

However, many people don’t understand the distinction between assault and battery.  An assault only involves the threat of harm, whereas battery requires actual physical contact between the assailant and the victim.  

Are There Different Types of Battery?

Yes- there can be various types of battery depending on the state and state laws.  These are usually grouped according to the class of victim.  For example, battery can be sub-divided into other categories like:

  • Battery against a police officer
  • Battery against a child
  • Battery against a spouse
  • Battery against an elder person

Depending on the class of victim, some types of battery charges are considered “aggravated” charges, meaning that they will result in felony charges instead of misdemeanor charges.  Examples of felony battery include battery against a woman, child, or police officer, and battery that involves the use of a deadly weapon.

Are There Any Defenses to Battery?

Some defenses to battery may include:

  • Self-defense
  • Intoxication
  • Coercion
  • Defense of others
  • Lack of evidence

Of course, the availability of any given defense will depend on the nature of the criminal charges, and the different facts coming into play.  For example, if the person never actually intended to strike or contact the person, they might not be found guilty of criminal battery (although they might face civil charges).

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With Battery Charges?

Criminal battery charges can often lead to various legal consequences such as misdemeanor charges.  If you’re in need of legal assistance, you should contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer immediately.  Your lawyer can help defend you in court, and can provide you with valuable legal advice.  Your attorney can also advise you on your various options in terms of legal defenses to the battery charges. 

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 10-18-2016 06:53 PM PDT

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