When you hear the word “crime,” what’s the first thing that comes into mind? Crimes usually conjure up images of deadly weapons and blood in our minds. However, not all crimes involve deadly weapons. Take, for example, two of the most common crimes that happen every day: battery and assault. Although battery and assault are not as extreme as murder, these are still crimes. Are battery and assault synonymous? The simple answer is no.
Battery versus Assault
There are two main differences between assault and battery charges. Battery involves physical harm; an example would be physical touch to the point of harassment or injury. Even the slightest touch, if it caused distress, suffering, or trauma to the victim, will be considered as a battery. On the other hand, assault involves threatening a person verbally. Even without physical contact, as long as your words hurt the victim, it is still considered an assault.
Although battery and assault are two different crimes, they are commonly paired together and considered as a single offense. Why? For these crimes in general, a motive and a threat precede an action. Thus, before carrying out the battery, the offender has most likely contemplated on threatening and harming the victim. Additionally, battery has three levels — first, second, and third degree. Each has a corresponding punishment depending on the severity of the crime. In other areas of jurisdiction, assault is described in a much broader term — intentionally forcing or hurting someone. Furthermore, similar to battery, assault also has three degrees and has corresponding levels of punishment.
Battery and Assault are Personal Crimes
Both fall under the category of personal crimes. Personal crime is a violent crime that causes harm to the victim — may it be physical, psychological, or emotional. Hence, as described above, battery and assault are classified as personal crimes.
Battery and Assault Penalties
The circumstances of the crime determine the penalties for battery and assault. Minor charges are considered misdemeanors; in situations wherein an attack did not cause physical harm or if the offender did not use any deadly weapon. A battery charge is also considered a misdemeanor if no deadly weapon is involved and the victim only sustained minor injuries. Penalties for misdemeanors include fines and a prison term of less than a month up to one year. More serious cases are considered felonies and are punishable with huge fines and imprisonment. Depending on the seriousness of the crime, an offender can spend a minimum of 2 years or even life imprisonment. Battery and assault offenders who committed personal crimes against family members have received harsher penalties.
Having basic knowledge about battery and assault could help us become more careful in our words and actions. At times, due to circumstances, we feel inclined to express our anger towards someone. But now we must understand that exercising self-control is always the best option. If we are unable to maintain composure and restraint during stressful situations, we might end up hurting others and ourselves.