Assault and Battery


Assault may be defined as an intentional act that places another person in fear of physical harm that he or she is about to suffer. This definition actually implies that the actual physically harm need not be inflicted and that causing another person to fear its possibility is already an act deserving of punishment. But, while assault remains to be a threat, the actual physical harm on another person is what constitutes battery. Before, assault and battery were treated as separate crimes, with battery more considered as “completed” assault. These days, however, many modern laws no longer distinguish between the two crimes, with assault already referring to crimes of actual physical violence.

State laws vary greatly with regard to penalties and sentences for an assault and/or battery conviction (it is possible for a person to be convicted only of assault without battery, such as when he or she raises his or her fist in a threatening manner, but without actually throwing a punch. In like manner, a person may be convicted only of battery without assault, such as when he or she pushes or punches someone else from behind). Conviction may include fines and/or imprisonment, depending on how severe the offense is and the criminal history of the offender; thus, repeat offenders will most likely receive stiffer penalties. Stiffer penalties will also be meted out on offenders whose victim is a public servant (like a police officer, a firefighter, a paramedic or a teacher), a family member, or a person living with the offender.

Assault (or simple assault) is considered a misdemeanor crime; however, if an offender threatens another individual with a weapon of any kind or with the resolve to commit a serious crime, like rape, then this shall be considered as aggravate assault, which is a felony. Likewise, an assault committed against a person with whom the offender has a relationship is considered an aggravated assault or a felony. A person, on the other hand, commits an aggravated battery if he or she accomplishes it using a deadly weapon, or if he or she has intent to commit murder or other serious harm.

Assault and battery, though intentional, still falls under the scope of personal injury law or tort law, thus, allowing victims to file a lawsuit in a civil court. Through this civil lawsuit, victims can seek compensation for injuries and other damages resulting from the incident.

The defendants in an assault and battery civil lawsuit case, however, as made clear in the website of the Charleston personal injury lawyers of Clawson & Staubes, LLC: Injury Group, may not only be the offenders themselves. According to the website, “owners and operators of businesses, bars and restaurants, security firms, and even the employers of assailants” can also be held responsible if the assailants were “acting in the course and scope of their employment.” Thus, in the event of an assault and battery crime, it may be in the best interest of the victims to seek legal help from experienced personal injury lawyers for the proper investigation of their cases and for guidance in pursuing legal action that will help them seek the compensation they may have a right to claim.

Read More