To the layman, the terms “assault” and “battery” are often used interchangeably to mean the same thing. There is however one major difference between the two terms for those in the know. The difference being that one of these terms- battery, involves the presence of actual physical harm done to another individual. Assault on the other hand, often refers to the mere threat of harm, even if there was no actual harm that was inflicted on another individual.
Oftentimes and in many jurisdictions both battery and assault are often joined together as a single offense. Reason being that more often than not, when someone commits a battery offense, chances are they have committed an assault just prior to that. It is also important to note that there are often different degrees of battery, including first, second and third degrees of battery each carrying degrees of punishment.
The Different Penalties.
Just as the terms assault and battery have different definitions, so also do they have similarly different penalties, if one is convicted of either crime. Having said that, the punishment for assault and/or batter varies from one jurisdiction to another. While it may by and large be the same in some places, it may be radically different in other places. Visit this website to get a listing of all the various laws regarding assault and battery, and the corresponding penalties.
So for instance, the punishment for the various types of assault and battery (simple assault and battery, and simple and aggravated battery) in the state of Georgia can range anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 in fines, one year jail time or restitution for simple assault or misdemeanor. Aggravated assault or battery on the other hand can carry a felony charge, which carries anything between one and twenty years in prison. Including fines and other restitution.
California on the other hand, where assault and battery laws are found in criminal as well as civil laws, the punishment for simple assault, which is a misdemeanor is up to six months in a county jail and/or a maximum 1,000 fine, probation, restitution to the victim(s).
The crime of battery on the other hand can carry either a misdemeanor charge with up to six months in a county jail, and/or maximum fine $2,000, a probation or felony (depending on the nature of the alleged offense,) and is additionally punishable by up to three years in county jail or state prison, a fine of $2,000 up to $10,000, or both, probation. As well as restitution to the victim(s).
Whatever state or jurisdiction an individual resides, an assault and battery case will almost always be prosecuted by the state’s district attorney’s office. The defendant on the other hand is likely to hire a defense attorney to help defend him or her against the charges. Such an individual, if they reside in California for instance, will want to hire a California personal injury attorney to help defend their case.
Damages For Assault and Battery Cases.
Whenever an assault and/or battery results in significant injury, hospitalization and medical attention by an individual, such a person can file a civil lawsuit against the defendant in the case, seeking compensation for things like the pain and suffering, and reimbursement for medical bills, among others.
In such circumstances, the injured individual is likely to want to retain the services of a personal injury attorney to help file the said lawsuit against the defendant.
Note however, that where no physical harm or injury occurred in an assault and battery case, then it will very likely be a waste of time to file a lawsuit as you are likely to not be awarded any damages, even though a crime was committed.
Defense for Assault and Battery
There are some cases where either a prosecution of, or a lawsuit against someone accused of committing an assault and/or battery won’t hold up on a court of law. These will usually include cases where the accused had a valid reason for his or her conduct. Some of these reasons include:
- Self-defense or the defense of others: For instance, a parent who physically assaults or batters someone else in the defense of their child because the child was in actual (physical) danger from the other person might be able to get off being prosecuted, and if indeed the parent is prosecuted, then they stand a good chance of not being found guilty.
This of course is dependent on the nature and type of assault, and the underlying circumstance surrounding the whole incident.
- Privilege: A very good example of privilege is where is involves a police officer or an officer of the law who uses force in carrying out his duties. Even if the force used was excessive. It is perhaps for this exact reason that many police officers do not get prosecuted, or deemed to have acted incorrectly, in the many cases of police shootings of unarmed civilians.
We hope this short article has been able to enlighten you on the difference between assault and battery.