Assault and Battery
Many people are not aware that there is a legal difference between assault charges and battery charges. The two are often used interchangeably or together, but according to the law, there is a marked difference between the two and it is critical for anyone facing charges to understand what it is. The following is a brief overview. For more detailed information, contact a criminal defense attorney today.
What Is Battery?
The law defines battery as an act that causes bodily harm to a person. The party who is causing the offensive act must be aware of what they are doing and have no legal grounds to do so.
Some of the most common forms of battery include hitting, punching, slapping, or any other type of physical contact that is harmful. Battery can also be the act of offensive touching, such as grabbing a backpack from someone, because the law considers the backpack an extension of the victim carrying it.
An elevated charge of battery is aggravated battery, which is a more serious charge that carries a more severe penalty if the person is convicted. Actions that can result in an aggravated battery charge include:
- When the battery results in great bodily harm, permanent disfigurement, or permanent disability.
- When the battery causes great bodily harm to a law enforcement officer or firefighter.
- When the battery causes great bodily harm to a victim over 60 years of age.
- When the battery is caused by the use of a biological agent, chemical agent, explosive, flammable substance, poisonous gas, or radioactive substance.
What Is Assault?
Contrary to what many people think, physical contact does not need to be made in order for a person to be charged with assault. Assault occurs when one party puts the other party in fear of being battered. The victim need only think that the battery is imminent, even if the perpetrator never actually follows through. Some actions that could result in an assault charge include:
- Hands being made into a fist
- Raising a hand or fist at someone as if to strike them
- Saying something threatening to make the victim think they are in danger
Assault charges can be elevated to aggravated charges if one of the following occurs:
- Assaulting a victim who is disabled
- Assaulting a victim who is a teacher or school employee on school property
- Assaulting a law enforcement officer or correctional officer
- Shooting a firearm from a vehicle
- Driving a vehicle in a way that makes a person thinks they may be struck by the vehicle
- Driving a vehicle in a way that puts passengers in danger
Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been accused or arrested for assault, you need an aggressive criminal defense attorney clients trust. Contact a criminal defense lawyer, like a criminal defense lawyer in Rockville, MD, to find out how their legal team can help you fight against these charges.
Thanks to the Law Office of Daniel J. Wright for their insight into the differences between assault and battery.