Although the two are commonly used in a single phrase, battery and assault are two distinct charges that can be leveled against a person. Under the Colorado criminal laws, assault and battery are different crimes, and so are the penalties for each. Nevertheless, because they are similar, these charges are often brought together in order to sufficiently describe the fullness of a person’s criminal actions.
According to the law, assault is defined as willful intent or threatening to cause bodily harm to another person. In addition, negligent damages can be classified undercounts of assault, not battery.
Types of Assault
- Sexual assault is a violent act that can affect both men and women. Many women are subjected to sexual assault during their lifetimes. This physical offense, like domestic abuse, can be caused by someone close to you, or by a stranger. Besides putting a woman at risk for pregnancy, sexual assault on women and men can lead to severe mental struggles in the future.
- Aggravated assault is one that is caused with a deadly weapon, such as a gun. Even if someone is holding a gun and threatens to shoot you unless you do something, yet does not commit the actual crime, they can be charged with aggravated assault. On the other hand, simple assault is threatening to physically, sexually, or otherwise abuse a person without a deadly weapon.
- In a motor vehicle assault, motor vehicles are considered to be dangerous and deadly weapons. Attempting to run someone over with your vehicle is an example of this case, but far from the only scenario in which one can be charged with motor vehicle assault. Even if you are driving recklessly with no regard for the safety of others around you, you can be ticketed and taken to jail because of motor vehicle assault.
Battery is when someone deliberately touches another person without his or her consent, with a body part, substance or object. You do not necessarily have to hit someone to get arrested for battery. Spitting on someone could get you arrested for battery.
Battery versus assault differences
Ultimately, the difference between the two remains whether or not contact was actually made. This difference, coupled with the intent of the crime, changes the severity of punishment drastically. Although most assault and battery charges are considered misdemeanors, aggravated battery, in particular, is often considered to be a felony.
Assault, in particular, largely depends on the prosecutor proving proof that a person intended to cause harm. Unlike battery, this crime can occasionally be dismissed altogether if the prosecutor cannot prove intent.
Common exceptions for assault or battery conviction
Three types of defense fall under this umbrella category: self-defense, defense of others and defense of property.
- Self-defense is the act of using reasonable force to protect yourself from physical harm.
- Defense of others is the act of using reasonable force to protect others.
- Defense of property is using reasonable force to defend your belongings.
In all cases, the phrase “reasonable force” is key. You cannot hit someone with a shovel if they threaten to spit on you. Specific defense laws vary from state to state.
Mutual combat occurs when two or more people voluntarily agree to fight without the pretense of self-defense. Nobody involved in the fight is likely going to win an assault or battery case. Only in the event of excessive force (i.e. a kick to the face of a knocked out or downed combatant) can an assault or battery stand a chance.
In some jurisdictions, upholding discipline is an assault and battery privilege. In these cases, an individual is given the responsibility of using a reasonable amount of force to discipline someone and prevent them from hurting themselves, hurting others and destroying property. Hospital workers, mental hospital employees, teachers and parents can all use the discipline privilege in certain areas.
Besides the defense privilege, police conduct is one of the most well-known assault and battery exceptions. Law enforcement is allowed to use reasonable force in order to restrain someone or place someone under arrest. Much like self-defense, the amount of reasonable force varies with the amount of resistance. People who sustain injuries from law enforcement officers that are practicing reasonable force will not win an assault or battery case
Assault and battery cases differ greatly from case to case. If you or a loved one has been involved in an assault or battery case, the best thing you can do is contact an experienced criminal lawyer to guide you through the experience. The criminal law team at Pollart and Miller LLC is here to help you.