Of the many criminal charges a person can face, aggravated assault is most frequently charged. In the United States, assault is the second most common crime. While typically criminally charged together, assault and battery differ and carry distinct punishments. Sometimes devastatingly, assault and battery can refer to a tort charge and lead to civil penalties in conjunction with criminal penalties. To better understand the similarities and differences between the two crimes, it is best to break each one down and then compare them together. The following is a brief overview of assault and battery from a trial lawyer from Eglet Adams.
Types of Assault
There are two types of assault – simple and aggravated. An assault is a wrongful intentional or reckless act by one person that causes another to reasonably fear imminent harm. To be considered a simple assault, the fear that the victim feels must be a fear that a reasonable person would also see as threatening to them. An aggravated assault is a felony while a simple assault is a misdemeanor. This type of assault carries a maximum penalty of up to six (6) month in jail and a fine of no more than $1,000.
A simple assault can be elevated to an aggravated assault if the assault if committed with a deadly weapon, committed against a police officer, firefighter, healthcare provider, or other person from a protected class, or if committed while the defendant was on parole, in custody, or in prison. An aggravated assault carries a maximum imprisonment of up to six (6) years and a fine of up to $5,000.
Similar to assault, there are two types of battery charges – simple and aggravated. A simple battery is the intentional touching of someone else in an unlawful manner which typically includes the unwanted punching, stabbing, or biting of another person. Notably, it is immaterial whether the contact to the victim was direct or indirect.
A simple battery can become an aggravated battery if committed with a deadly weapon, committed against a police officer, firefighter, healthcare provider, or other person from a protected class, or if committed while the defendant was on parole, in custody, or in prison. A simple battery is a misdemeanor and an aggravated battery is a felony. An aggravated battery charges carry penalties of up to five (5) years in prison and a fine up of to $10,000. Importantly, Nevada has a separate charge for battery domestic violence when a battery occurs between family members, romantic partners, or other cohabitants.
Put together, an assault turns into a battery and becomes and assault and battery charge when physical contact is made. As you may have noticed, the punishments for assault are less than for battery because an assault involves no touching or physical and/or mental injuries.
When defending an assault and/or battery charge, there are three defenses that apply even-handedly: (1) it was an accident (i.e., there was no intent); (2) the act was committed in self-defense; and (3) the defendant was falsely accused.
More importantly, a conviction for an assault and/or batter can lead to civil penalties. A guilty conviction plea or conviction is conclusive evidence of guilt in a subsequent civil trial. The injured party, as a result of the guilty conviction, can receive monetary damages to compensate them for the defendant’s wrongful acts.