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What is the difference between assault and battery?

On Behalf of | Jun 8, 2022 | Criminal defense |

Part of life is getting into disagreements with others. It’s going to happen. Whether at home, at work or out for an evening with friends, an argument can erupt and sometimes lead to more. But when does an argument become a crime? When does it cross the line into assault or battery?

Simple assault

Not all states treat assault and battery equally – many lump them together into a single offense. Illinois keeps them separate and punishes them as distinct crimes. To assault someone is to knowingly take an action that places another person in reasonable apprehension of fear of violence. Often, this involves threatening the person. Actual physical contact is not required.

Simple battery

Battery differs from assault in that it requires physical contact. It can occur by either knowingly injuring another person or by making contact that is insulting or provoking. So, where simple assault may be the act of threatening to strike someone and advancing on them, simple battery would be the actual act of hitting them.

Aggravated assault

While most instances of simple assault are considered a misdemeanor, there are plenty of circumstances that can elevate it to aggravated assault and convert it to a felony. Assaulting someone with a deadly weapon is an aggravated assault. So too is the assault of specific persons, such as teachers, police officers, paramedics and many other protected individuals.

Aggravated battery

Like aggravated assault, battery can become the felony of aggravated battery if a deadly weapon is used. It’s also frequently distinguished from simple battery due to the severity of injuries caused. While simple battery may result in scrapes or bruises, broken bones or damaged organs will raise it to a felony. Aggravated battery also includes specific protected classes of people, just like aggravated assault.