If you have ever enjoyed a law-based drama, you have probably heard the police say something like, “You are being arrested for assault and battery.” The terms “assault” and “battery” are actually said together so frequently that many people believe that they are the exact same crime, or a two-worded term for one single crime.
However, in most states, including California, assault and battery are two separate crimes. A good way to think about assault and battery is that assault is an attempt at battery.
What is assault?
Assault occurs when an individual makes an effort to injure somebody else without a legal justification, such as self-defense. No contact is necessary to commit an assault. There is, however, an action requirement.
In order to be guilty of assault, the perpetrator must put the victim in reasonable fear for his or her own safety. Words alone are not sufficient for an assault charge.
What is battery?
Unlike assault, battery requires physical contact with the victim. Hitting somebody with a fist or a weapon is a clear case of battery.
It is also possible for an individual to be guilty of battery in less obvious situations. Spitting on somebody or shoving them may also be a battery. This is true even if it is unlikely that the spitting or shoving will cause serious harm.