When people talk about criminal charges resulting from physical violence, they may say that someone has been charged with assault and battery. This is also a term that you may have heard in popular TV shows or police dramas.
But the reality is that assault and battery is not one charge. These are two distinct charges that are certainly related, but there are key differences between the two of them.
Generally, the actual physical contact is known as “battery.” If two individuals get into a shoving match in front of a bar one night, and then punches are thrown, that physical contact could lead to battery charges for the aggressor. This is why it is so important to determine who was the aggressor and who was using self-defense in these types of situations. People are allowed to use physical force to defend themselves from harm.
The threat of an assault
For an assault charge, someone merely needs to make a credible threat. For example, threatening someone’s life while holding a firearm would be considered assault, even if no shots were fired and no physical contact occurred at all between both parties. Assault and battery are often listed together because the confrontation may start with a threat and then be elevated to battery when contact is made. But that still means they may face two charges, not one.
Those who are facing charges certainly need to know the difference between the two terms and what it means for their case. They also need to know about the legal options at their disposal.