We’ve all have observed the most common phrase on TV or in movies: “You’re under arrest for assault and battery.” The commonly heard phrase is used for the images of bar fights and parking area brutal brawls. Both the terms are 2 separate legal concepts with definite elements. Some states divide them in to separate phenomena while others combine them as an offenses. Mostly in states, an assault or battery in crime is committed when one person tries to or acts in a threatening manner to put another in the sense of fear for causing immediate harm. Many states have a segregated category for an assault or battery when severe injury is caused due to the use of a deadly weapon. Assaults and batteries can also be pursued through civil lawsuits

In short, an assault is an attempt or threat to harm the another person, while battery is the act of making contact with another person in a harmful or offensive manner.


The statutes defining battery will differ by jurisdiction, a typical definition for battery is the intentional offensive or harmful touching by one person to another person without their consent. Under this general definition, a battery offense requires all of the following:

  • Intentional touching;
  • the touching must be damaging or offensive;
  • without the consent from the victim.

It may come as a surprise that a battery normally does not require any intent to harm the victim. Instead, a person need to only have an intent to contact or cause a contact with an individual. In addition to this, if someone acts in a criminally impulsive manner or negligent manner that will conclude in such contact, it may comprises as an assault. As an outcome, accidentally causing harm to someone, as offensive as the “victim” might consider it to be, would not be termed a battery. The criminal act required for battery which boils down to an offensive or harmful contact.

This can be calculated from the term battery where a physical attack such as a punch or kick is being used, to even minimal contact in some cases. In accordance to this , a victim doesn’t need to be injured or harmed for a battery to take place, as long as an offensive contact is involved. In an example, spitting on an individual doesn’t physically harm them, but it nevertheless can comprise offensive contact which is sufficient for a battery. Whether a particular contact is considered offensive is usually calculated from the view of the ordinary person. Some jurisdictions have combined assault and battery into a single offense. Because the two offenses are so closely related and more often occur together, this shouldn’t be come as a surprise. However, the basic fundamental concepts underlying the offense remain the same.


The definitions for assault differ  from state-to-state, but assault is often defined as an attempt to injure to someone else, and in some instances it include threats or threatening behaviour against others. One common definition would be an intentional attempt, using violence or force, to injure another person. Another way that assault sometimes is defined  as an attempted battery. Generally the main recognizable point  between an assault and a battery is that no contact is necessary for an assault, whereas an offensive or illegal contact must take place  for a battery.

Even though contact is not generally necessary for an assault offense, a sentence for an assault still requires a criminal “act”. The types of acts that comes into the category of assaults can be differ widely, but typically an assault requires an undisguised or direct act that would put the reasonable person in fear for their safety. Words which are spoken, alone will not be enough of an act to constitute an assault unless and until the offender backs them up with an act or actions that put the victim in reasonable fear of forthcoming harm. In order to commit an assault an individual need only have “general intent.”

This means that though someone can’t accidentally assault another person, it is enough to show that an offender intended the actions which could be called as an assault. So, if an individual acts in a way that’s considered to be dangerous to other people that can be sufficient to prove assault charges, even if they didn’t intend a particular harm to a particular individual. Moreover, an intent to scare or frighten another person can be enough to establish assault charges, as well.

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