What is the Difference Between Assault and Battery?

Posted on in Criminal Law

Assault and battery are two separate crimes in Illinois, although they are often charged together. In short, battery is making physical contact with someone in a way that causes harm to them or is insulting and designed to provoke them. Assault is causing someone to believe that you are about to batter them. 

Either can be charged as a felony or as a misdemeanor depending on the level of harm caused or the presence of aggravating factors, such as the use of a firearm. If you have been charged with any form of battery or assault, you will need a skilled criminal defense lawyer to protect your rights and fight to minimize any consequences. 

Understanding the Difference Between Assault and Battery

Often, a person is charged with both assault and battery. However, the two legal terms mean different things and can be charged separately as well. If you have been charged with one or the other - or both - you may be having trouble understanding what each means. Here are some reasons each may or may not be charged: 

  • Assault, but not Battery: If you allegedly acted in a way that caused someone to fear that you were going to harm them, but you ultimately never made physical contact with the victim, this is an assault but not a battery. For example, you waved a knife at the victim while verbally threatening to stab them but did not follow through on the threat or otherwise cause physical harm to the victim. 

  • Battery, but not Assault: If you allegedly caused physical harm to someone without threatening them or making them fear physical harm first. For example, you snuck up behind the victim and stabbed him. The victim did not see you coming and was unaware of the impending battery. 

  • Battery and Assault: If you allegedly acted in a threatening way that caused the victim to believe you were about to hurt them and then actually did hurt them, then both battery and assault may be charged. For example, you waved a knife at the victim while threatening to stab him, and then actually stabbed him. 

These are simplified examples. Real-life criminal cases are rarely this cut-and-dry. Also, keep in mind that these examples would likely be considered “aggravated” versions of battery and assault because a deadly weapon (the knife) is involved. It is important to have an attorney examine your individual case to present the strongest possible defense. 

Call a Lake County Violent Crimes Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you are facing assault charges, battery charges, or both, you will need to be represented by an attorney who has experience defending against accusations of violent crimes. Scott F. Anderson, Attorney at Law is committed to aggressively defending clients accused of violent crimes. Whether you are facing misdemeanor or felony charges, this matter is not to be taken lightly. Contact a Waukegan Criminal Defense Attorney for Violent Crime Charges today so we can begin planning your best defense. Call 847-253-3400 for a free and confidential consultation.