Assault & Battery: Two Separate Crimes

People arrested for a violent crime will usually find the term "assault & battery" somewhere on their arrest record. The commonality of seeing these two terms together can understandably lead many to believe that assault and battery are one in the same, or at least always together, like the shore and the sea. The truth of the matter, however, is that assault and battery are two entirely different criminal actions, each one with its own legal definition and potential penalties.

What is Assault?

Has anyone ever angrily raised their fist at you, or even gone as far to take a swing and miss? Those are both examples of assault, which is defined as attempting to physically harm someone, or threatening them convincingly with harm, while having the physical capability to carry out that attempt or promise. In simpler terms, assault is the active or open desire to hurt someone.

What is Battery?

Where assault is the promise or attempt to harm someone, battery is the end result when that hurtful intent comes to fruition. The moment a person is physically injured by another who intended to cause them harm, battery has occurred. For example, if the person in the aforementioned scenario swung at you and actually landed the blow, it would be battery, not assault.

Why Assault and Battery Together?

If both of these crimes are separate and unique, why are they paired together so often? And why do some law enforcement agencies sometimes choose to bundle them up into one charge? The answer is in the nature of the crimes themselves, and perhaps even in human nature.

Someone who is incited or upset to the point where they would assault or threaten someone is also probably keen to fulfill that objective, if possible. Thus, assault leads to battery more often than it does not. Battery is also rarely a standalone crime due to the fact that random, unforeseeable attacks are rare; to be charged with just battery, someone would have to walk up nonthreateningly, strike their victim, and leave just as casually.

One Law Firm for Both Offenses

If you have an assault, a battery, or an assault and battery charge on your record and you want to avoid the harsh penalties of conviction, such as high fines and jail time, call 888.392.8114 to schedule a free consultation with the Law Office of Frances Prizzia. Our Orange County criminal defense attorney has been successfully representing clients for more than 10 years, earning her a 10.0 "Superb" Avvo rating and a 2015 Avvo Client's Choice Award for Criminal Defense. Contact us today to discover the difference Attorney Prizzia and our team can make for you.