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Assault and battery: are they the same crime?

On Behalf of | Aug 29, 2023 | Criminal defense

In Georgia and every other state, it is critical to understand the differences between criminal charges, especially in certain situation where the terms are frequently used interchangeably, as is often the case with assault and battery.

Assault and battery have different legal meanings and definitions in Georgia, even though when the state prosecutor charges an individual with one of these crimes, they often charge the same individual with the other because they can often go hand-in-hand. However, this is not always true.

What is assault?

By definition, assault is the intentional act of causing another person to have a reasonable fear of imminent harm or offensive contact.

In Georgia, physical contact need not occur for an assault to occur. The crime of assault is focused primarily on the threat or fear of harm rather than any actual bodily injury.

What is battery?

Battery is the intentional physical contact or striking of another person without their consent. Unlike the crime of assault, battery requires some form of physical contact to happen. Even minor contact, such as a push or a slap, is enough for a battery charge.

Why are assault and battery often used interchangeably?

In many cases, both crimes go hand in hand. For example, if a person verbally threatens another and then physically strikes them, the state can charge them with assault and battery. In other cases, these charges can stand alone, so both acts don’t need to occur simultaneously or in the same case.

What types of crime are assault and battery?

Under Georgia law, assault and battery are misdemeanors unless aggravating factors exist. Certain factors can escalate the charges from simple misdemeanors to aggravated assault or battery, which are often felony charges and carry longer prison sentences.

Important differences

Even though assault and battery, in many cases, go hand-in-hand, it is critical to understand the differences between the two crimes, any aggravating factors that could make either crime worse and any existing legal defenses.