Tuesday, May 30A Lawyer Blog...!

Assault, Battery, and Aggravated Assault: What Is the Difference?

Although violent crime rates have been falling for decades, these crimes do still happen. When they do, the perpetrator might be charged with assault, battery, or aggravated assault. Many people have heard of these criminal charges but because there are minor differences between them, a lot of people cannot tell them apart. Below, we will be looking at what they are and what differentiates one from the other.

The Basics

Assault, battery, and aggravated assault are all brought against someone where there is proof that there was intentional harm inflicted or there was the threat or intention of physical harm. In many cases, crimes involving a physical attack will be labeled an assault, battery, or both. To rise to the level of aggravated assault, the attack’s seriousness as well as if a weapon was used are considered.


Assault charges are levied when there is deliberate effort by the perpetrator to make the victim think they are in imminent danger of harm. In most cases, assault cases do not have to involve physical harm but the act of making someone fear physical harm is enough to get charges brought against someone. Because of this definition, police officers are allowed to intervene in cases where there is imminent danger of physical harm.

It is important to note that words alone are hard to define as assault. The law recognizes that people say things they do not mean in heated exchanges and provide some exceptions for that.

Simple Vs Aggravated Assault

Simple and aggravated assault are differentiated by looking at the gravity of the harm that was done or could be done if the perpetrator had followed through with a threat. In many states, aggravated assault is levied if it involves a weapon or the intention of committing a very serious crime. A common example is violence with the intent of committing rape.

Simple assault can be elevated to aggravated assault if it is directed towards protected groups such as ethnic minorities.

Aggravated assault is a felony and a very serious charge. If you are charged with aggravated assault, it is important to get in touch with a lawyer so they can understand the circumstances in which you were arrested and so they can see if your aggravated assault charge can be minimized to a simple assault. Hiring a law firm that specializes in criminal defense like Rosenthal Kalabus & Therrian is your best course of action in these circumstances.

Some states also classify assaults using a three-tier system where the first degree is the most serious and the third degree is less serious.

Assault and Battery

Assault and battery have historically been classified differently. As discussed above assault does not have to involve physical harm but battery does. Battery requires that the aggressor touches the victim in any way. But, these differences have been done away with and many states no longer provide this distinction. These crimes are now charged as “assault and battery”. In addition, many states now refer to any crime involving physical harm as assault.

Understanding the difference between assault, battery and aggravated assault is very important so you can understand what is at stake if you are ever charged with any of them. In any case, always call a lawyer when charged so they can start building a defense as soon as possible.

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