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The Difference Between Assault & Battery Charges

September 16, 2015 | Written by Dan Margolis

Just as a confrontation can quickly spin out of control, so too can assault and battery charges ramp up, depending on what police and prosecutors claim happened. Aggravating factors can lead to felony charges, which could mean years in prison if you are convicted.

The words “assault and battery” are often used together or interchangeably, but in Ohio law they refer to two different crimes. In general, assault is an attempt to injure someone else, while battery is an intentional “offensive or harmful touching,” which can range from a slap to a gunshot. It is possible to be charged with one or the other crime, or both.

In most states, to convict someone of battery, prosecutors must prove:

  • Intentional touching
  • That the victim did not consent to.

Unlike with some violent crimes, prosecutors need not show that the defendant specifically intended to injure the alleged victim. Instead, in most jurisdictions only general intent must be proven. In other words, it must only be shown that the defendant intended to commit the actions that made up the assault, or intended to contact the victim in battery cases.

As we said above, simple assault or battery charges can be elevated by aggravating factors. These can include the use of a deadly weapon, or severe injury to the victim.

Someone charged with assault and/or battery may have several defenses at their disposal, such as self-defense. A knowledgeable defense attorney will know how to evaluate the evidence and build an effective legal strategy.

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