What's the Difference Between Assault & Battery?

You may often hear the terms assault and battery used together, but they are, in fact, separate charges. Assault is generally defined as the threat of violence, while battery is the act of violence itself. If you are facing either assault or battery charges, or both, one of the best things you can do to help your case is to understand what you’re up against. That’s why we, at Brad Bailey Law, have summed up the key components of assault and battery, and explained what makes each charge different.


An assault is defined as intentionally threatening another person in a way that causes him or her to fear danger of physical harm. Even if the physical harm is never committed, the real threat of violence is a crime in itself. A person may be charged with 3 different degrees of assault, depending on the nature of the threats and the circumstances.

First degree assault, or aggravated assault, usually includes threat of harm with a dangerous weapon, or shows no regard for the value of human life. Aggravated assault is the most serious charge, and is considered a felony. Second degree is less severe, depending on the threatened harm, or actual harm, suffered by the victim, but it may still include the use of a weapon. Lastly, assault will fall under first degree, or simple assault, if the victim was not physically harmed.


Battery is when someone is touched, against their will, by another person in a harmful, offensive, violent or painful way. Criminal battery is categorized into 2 different types, either simple or aggravated.

A simple battery involves the use of physical force to injure or offensively touch another person, and is a misdemeanor. Battery is considered aggravated, and a felony, only when serious bodily harm is inflicted, resulting in death, extreme pain, disfigurement or loss of bodily function in some way. Sexual battery, involving anything from unwanted sexual touching to rape, may be charged as either simple sexual battery or aggravated sexual battery, depending on the harm inflicted.

The defendant may face more serious consequences if he or she harms a public servant, such as a police officer, teacher, or paramedic. Also, battery that falls under domestic violence, (meaning the harm was against a spouse or family member), often faces more severe charges.

Penalties of Assault & Battery

The consequences of either assault or battery are severe, but vary greatly based on the level of physical injury, and the severity of the threat of harm. Punishments may include time in jail, up to 25 years in prison, up to $10,000 in fines, probation, and restitution paid to the victim or the victim’s family. Also, it is very common for a person to be charged with both assault and battery. Due to the nature of the crime, if a person physically harms another, it’s likely he or she threatened violence beforehand, thus committing both assault and battery.

While battery charges usually lead to harsher penalties than assault charges, both can still be substantial. Even though a victim of assault may not have suffered any physical harm, courts are typically concerned that violence will eventually follow, leading them to error on the side of caution and dole out more severe punishments.

If you have been charged with assault or battery, Attorney Brad Baile can help. His background as a sheriff gives him an advantage over other criminal defense attorneys, allowing him to view charges from the other side of the line. He is committed to providing aggressive, non-judgmental legal assistance to those charged with violent crimes, including assault and battery.

Contact Brad Bailey Law and request a consultation regarding your assault and battery charges, today.

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