When you hear about someone who intentionally hurt someone else, you often hear two terms: assault and battery. In some cases, the terms are used together so often that it can be challenging to know the difference between them.
Unfortunately, it may not be clear in the rare times when you hear one term or the other. Since you are more likely to hear someone say, “I punched someone” rather than, “I battered someone,” figuring out which term applies is not always simple.
Here’s what you should know about these terms and why you may often hear the terms together.
The differences between battery and assault
When people talk outside of a legal setting, you may hear someone say that they were assaulted. From there, you may assume that assault means someone physically injured them, but that is not the case.
The Illinois statutes clear up the confusion by defining battery as when someone “knowingly without legal justification by any means (1) causes bodily harm to an individual or (2) makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with an individual.”
In contrast, Illinois statutes state, “A person commits an assault when, without lawful authority, he or she knowingly engages in conduct which places another in reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery.”
The clarifying difference between them is that battery is the harmful contact, while assault is the anticipation of the harmful contact.
Why are they often used together?
The media often discusses both terms as though they are one charge. This may be partly because there is often a moment of anticipation that comes before harmful contact.
While there are instances where there is a threat of contact but no contact (assault only) or harmful contact without anticipation (battery only), the two tend to come together.
The criminal court process is often long and complex. If you are facing criminal charges, it is essential to talk to a skilled professional about your defense.