What is Assault and Battery?
Assault and battery occur together when one individual threatens another and then carries out that threat, causing physical harm. Assault alone involves the threat of violence. Battery charges ensue when the act is actually carried out. Thus, an assault charge alone can be filed even if physical contact is not made. Assault and battery implies that the victim was threatened, and then suffered violent physical contact.
Some form of physical contact must be made for a victim to file assault and battery charges. However, this contact can come in many forms. Assault and battery charges can be filed for minimal physical contact, such as spitting or pushing. The severity of the punishment will be in line with the severity of the physical contact.
Privilege to Assault or Battery
In some cases, the defendant has privilege to assault or battery. This indicates that it is legal for the defendant to make forceful physical contact with the victim. Examples of privilege include the following:
- Self defense, defense of others, or defense of property: If the defendant assaults the victim to protect himself, his property, or another person from harm, this is permitted. The assault must be proportionate to the threat, however.
- Merchant’s privilege: This varies from one jurisdiction to the next. In many locations, merchants may apply physical force to remove unwanted individuals from the premises.
- Discipline: In most jurisdictions, reasonable measures which are used to discipline a child are permitted.
- Sports: Injuries which occur as a result of physical force in sports are rarely cause for legal action. When you enter a game of football, for example, it is understood that you consent to be physically tackled.
Assault and Battery Sentence
Defendants in an assault and battery case may face both criminal and civil charges. The victim can receive damages for medical bills and lost income as a result of the injuries. Fines, counseling, probation, and jail time are all possible sentences for assault and battery. The sentence will be more severe for crimes committed against certain victims such as children or the elderly.