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What is the Difference Between Assault and Battery?

In Illinois, a person charged with assault frequently will face additional charges for battery and vice versa. Indeed, many people assume that “assault and battery” is one single type of offense, but in fact, these are two distinct offenses that often are charged together. It is important to keep in mind that, even though assault and battery charges are commonly brought together, they are distinct crimes. Accordingly, a person can face charges only for assault or only for battery. The following will explore the differences between these charges, and the reasons that they are often charged together.

Defining Assault and Battery Under Illinois Law

Under Illinois law, assault is defined as a situation in which a person engages in conduct that makes another person fearful of receiving a battery. Then, battery is defined as a situation in which a person causes actual bodily harm to another or insulting or provoking physical contact.

What is the distinction here? In short, assault refers to a scenario in which a person engages in threatening conduct or other conduct that puts a person in fear of being touched in a harmful or offensive way. However, assault does not involve touching or striking another person in any way. Rather, it puts a person in fear of that kind of touching. Differently, a battery refers to that kind of touching. While a battery often does involve causing actual harm, it does not have to involve causing actual harm or injury to another person. Rather, any kind of touching that is insulting or of a provoking nature can constitute battery.

When assault and battery are committed under certain circumstances, they can be charged as aggravated offenses. For example, if a battery is committed against a particular person (like a police officer) or involves the use of a deadly weapon, a person may be charged with aggravated battery.

 Examples of Assault Versus Examples of Battery

 What are some examples of assault versus battery?

The following are some hypothetical situations in which a person might be charged with assault:

  • Threatening another person with physical contact in person but not actually touching that person;
  • Swinging at someone as if to punch him or her but missing; or
  • Throwing an object at another person with the intention of hitting him or her but missing.

How does battery compare? To use a couple of the examples above, along with some others:

  • Swinging at a person and punching him or her;
  • Throwing an object at another person and striking him or her with that object;
  • Man touching a woman without her consent; or
  • Shoving a person with the intention of intimidating him or her without actually causing physical harm.

Why are assault and battery so often charged together? As you might imagine, most crimes that involve battery also involve assault. To take the hypothetical example of swinging a fist at a person, as soon as Jane swings her fist at Jo, the act of swinging the fist might constitute an assault. When Jane actually strikes Jo with her fist, then the act becomes a battery. Thus, even though these crimes are distinct, battery very frequently also involves the crime of assault, and assault often is followed by the crime of battery.

Contact a Chicago Assault and Battery Defense Lawyer

If you have been charged with assault and/or battery, you should speak with a Chicago criminal defense attorney about your case. Contact the Law Offices of Jonathan Minkus today to get started on your defense.

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We urge you to contact us for a FREE, confidential, initial consultation.

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