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The difference between assault and battery charges

On Behalf of | May 26, 2022 | Criminal Defense |

Facing criminal charges of any kind is a threat to your future, but the ones that involve an element of violence may seem especially serious. This includes charges of assault and battery — criminal allegations that often involve the harm of another person. If you are facing these serious allegations, it is best to take immediate steps to protect your interests and defend yourself against the charges brought by the prosecution.

One of the most important aspects of a strong defense is understanding the nature of the charges you are facing. While assault and battery charges often go hand in hand, these are distinctive charges. As with any type of crime involving the harm of another person, your reputation is at stake, as well as your personal freedom, future opportunities in New Jersey and more.

The legal definitions of assault and battery

Assault is a common criminal charge, and it is based on an attempt to cause harm to someone else. One of the most important elements of any assault case is the intent to cause harm. It can be difficult to prove intent, and if harm occurred as a result of accidental circumstances, that is not assault. There is both simple and aggravated assault. Simple assault typically includes behaviors such as pushing and shoving, or unwanted touching of breasts or buttocks. Aggravated assault includes behaviors such as those that cause severe injury, use of a deadly weapon and more.

In most cases, assault is causing or attempting to cause injury to another person. Assault charges may also follow an attempt to threaten or act in a threatening way toward someone else, even if there was no physical contact. In order to have a valid case, the prosecution only needs to be able to prove general intent. Spoken words are not enough to constitute assault, but if the person speaking also acts in a way that causes fear of harm, it is assault.

While an assault can include either the threat of violence or unwanted simple touching, a battery occurs when bodily harm is caused. Even though the legal definition often contains numerous layers of complexity, many people understand the difference between assault and battery as “the threat of violence” versus “the violent act itself.” In general, battery includes nonconsensual, intentional harmful touching and often carries significant criminal penalties depending on the factors involved.

Defending your future interests

A defense against assault charges is a critical step in the protection of your future interests. If you are unsure of where to start, you may benefit from an explanation of your legal options after an assessment of your case. With appropriate help, you may be able to preserve your personal reputation and freedom.