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Friday, April 19, 2024

Domestic Assault vs Battery

Domestic assault and battery are often confused because of their similarities. The two crimes are acts of violence but the legal distinction is that assault is the threat of violence (attempted physical attack) while battery refers to physical attack. However, there’s no legal distinction between the two crimes in some jurisdictions.

You’ve probably heard “arrest for assault and battery” and you immediately thought of bar fights and brawls. This phrase fails to distinguish the two crimes–confusing most people. If you’ve been charged for “assault and violence”, just know that you’ve been charged for assault if you threatened someone or battery if you used physical violence before consulting a domestic assault lawyer in Toronto.

Statutory Distinctions

The criminal intent element must be proved to sustain battery and assault cases. You cannot be guilty if you accidentally harmed someone–the intent is required to establish the guilt of the accused person. Intentional shoving or unconsented fondling are also considered “simple” assaults–it doesn’t have to involve hardcore violence.

Serious or heightened assault or battery are considered “aggravated” forms of assault and battery. For instance, violence that results in severe injury or inflicting injuries with a deadly weapon are two aggravated forms of battery. Causing intentional harm to vulnerable individuals and the elderly is considered aggravated assault in some states.

Most jurisdictions no longer use the term battery. Instead, it’s known as a higher degree of assault. Although distinctions between the two crimes can vary by jurisdiction, an attorney can advise you further if you’ve been charged for any of the two crimes.

Assault vs Battery– Definitions and Requirements

Definition of Battery

Definition of battery and assault can vary by jurisdiction. However, a standard definition for the battery can be: touching another person violently without consent–meaning that the prerequisites for a battery are:

  • Unconsented and intentional touching;
  • The touching must be done violently or harmfully, and should be offensive;

Requirements for Battery

1. Intent Requirement

The intent to cause harm is not a requirement for battery cases although intent must exist when a person is committing the crime. However, an intent to contact another person must exist. Additionally, negligent acts that result in unwarranted contact constitute assault. Consequently, bumping into another person accidentally is no battery, however offensive the act may feel.

2. Act Requirement

The prerequisites for battery crimes constitute offensive and unwarranted contact which could range from a kick to minimal contact. A battery can occur even when the victim is not physically harmed or injured–offensive contact is the only requirement. For example, spitting on someone does not result in physical injury but it constitutes harmful contact to sustain battery.

Definition of Assault

Like a battery, the definition for assault varies by state but a standard definition can be: an attempted physical attack by a person who can cause harm if not stopped. A simple definition can be “threatening or threats against other people” while another definition is “attempting to injure others through violence”. Assault could also be called an attempted battery.

Requirements for Assault

1. Act Requirement

The prerequisite for assault is any direct action meant to instill fear. It’s important to understand that yelling threats at a deaf or blind person are considered an assault even if they can’t perceive such threats and imminent harm. Common acts which can constitute assault are:

  • Threatening gestures;
  • Threatening words;
  • Yelling at someone intending to threaten them;

2. Intent Requirement

A “general intent” must exist to sustain an assault conviction. In other words, you can’t commit assault accidentally. “I was joking” cannot be a defense of an assault–the fact remains that a threat was communicated, regardless of the intention.

Also, threats directed to another person–besides the actual victim, can be sufficient ground for pressing assault charges, according to the principle of transferred intent. Most jurisdictions consider assault and battery the same because they are so closely related and mostly occur concurrently.

Defenses for Assault and Battery

The defenses for assault and battery vary by case because the facts of each case are unique and often differ. However, the following defenses are available for cases that have satisfied the elements of assault or battery:

1. Self-defense

This defense can be used by the accused person in the following instances:

  • If their actions were influenced by the belief that they were in danger and that they needed to defend themselves;
  • They didn’t  provoke the plaintiff;
  • They couldn’t evade the situation in any other way.

2. Defending personal property

This defense is applicable if assault was committed when the accused was defending their property.

3. Defending a person who was in danger, such as a spouse, parent, or child.

4. Consent.

Generally, the main distinction between an assault and a battery is that no contact is necessary for an assault, whereas an offensive or harmful contact must occur for a battery.

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