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What is the difference between the terms “assault” and “battery”?

On Behalf of | Jan 9, 2023 | Criminal Defense

You often hear “assault” and “battery” lumped together in a single term. Although often used simultaneously, these are separate charges with different meanings.

What is the difference between the two?

Major difference

In the simplest terms, assault is psychological, and battery is physical. In other words, assault carries the threat of harming someone, causing that person to fear that harm is imminent. Battery is the actual, physical act of harming someone. It can also refer to intentional physical contact without the consent of the person, meaning contact that offends the sense of dignity of that person.

Examples of assault

If you put someone in the position of anticipating that he or she is about to be subject to battery, you are guilty of assault. You might brandish a weapon, such as a baseball bat. You might simply raise your fist or issue a verbal threat, raising the expectation that you will follow through with some sort of harmful action. In Texas, threatening someone with harm is a Class C misdemeanor. Depending on the level to which you take your threat, and the subject of your assault suffers an injury, you could be looking at a Class A misdemeanor with a fine of up to $4,000 and a year in jail.

Examples of battery

You do not have to touch someone physically to face a battery charge. Throwing a pillow at someone or even blowing smoke in his face could constitute battery. On the other hand, you could face a battery charge if you merely hug someone who does not want your hug. As with assault, the definition of battery has various meanings depending on the type of action that occurs.