Assault and battery are two separate acts of violence that are used together so often most people may find it difficult to define them independently of each other. Put simply, assault is threatening harm against another person. Battery is actually striking the person. From there it can get complicated.
For battery to occur, there must be proof of intent. Otherwise, standing up on the subway and accidently bashing someone on the chin could be considered battery. Consequently, assault usually precedes battery. Assault and battery in the above situation would include a verbal threat to stand up and bash the other person on the chin and then doing it. The first example is an accident; the second is a crime.
Continuing with the unfortunate incident on the subway, if the assailant tells the other person of his or her intention to stand up and bash the victim on the chin and the intended victim runs to the other end of the car without getting hit, then assault is the crime.
Assault must include evidence of capability to carry out the threat. The victim will usually know or believe the threat is real and not just talk. Battery doesn’t always follow assault. A policeman, security guard, or even a concerned citizen can intervene and prevent the battery. However, assault has occurred and an officer of the law can arrest the assailant on those charges.
Defending yourself after an assault can be a complicated case; especially if there is a weapon involved in your defense. Self-defense with deadly force is difficult to justify against mere assault. Most states require that the victim show an attempt to flee the scene or seek other redress before resorting to deadly force. Part of the complications of the Trayvon Martin case is that both Trayvon and George Zimmerman had other options other than deadly force.
Battery can exist without assault in the case of a sucker punch or battery committed in the act of surprise.
Assault and battery have traditionally been prosecuted as misdemeanors, usually punishable by up to a year in jail. However, recent changes in the criminal code, allow those accused of assault and battery to be tried for a felony if the intent was to kill, rob, rape, or if a firearm was used in the act of the crime. In other words, simple verbal assault is a misdemeanor or a year in jail, while assault while holding a gun is a felony and could get you five to ten years in prison.
Assault and battery cases often involve several extenuating circumstances. Before you get railroaded into accepting a charge of assault and battery, contact an experience criminal defense attorney to protect yourself.
Gary Hall likes to write – a lot. In fact, he’s mentioned it before. His tastes range from beekeeping to classical piano. He finds himself moonlighting as a writer for several companies, including http://www.elliotsavitzlaw.com/ – something he enjoys almost as much as honey. Almost.