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Assault and Battery, Part I - the difference between the charges

We all take a lot of what we know about the criminal justice system from what we see in movies and on television. Unfortunately, much of the legal jargon and procedure presented in these formats is incorrect. For instance, many of our Fresno readers have probably heard the term "assault and battery" thrown around, as if it was a singular event. But, in Part I of this series focusing on these criminal charges, we will examine how the two terms, "assault" and "battery," are actually two separate charges.

Assault is different from battery in that there is no actual physical contact made between the alleged aggressor and the alleged victim. For assault charges to be filed, there will almost always be a threat of physical harm that causes intended victims to indeed fear that they will be harmed by the aggressor. But, there has to be more than just a threat - there has to be an apparent ability that the alleged aggressor can actually carry out that threat.

Battery, by itself, is probably the charge that most people think of when they say "assault and battery." Whether it is a punch in the face or hitting someone with an object, the charge of battery involves actual physical contact that causes harm to the victim. Instances of alleged battery that involve weapons or that cause severe bodily harm are often charged as felonies.

When a Fresno resident is charged with one of these two crimes - or both - there may be some unique circumstances that could play a major role in a planned criminal defense. Our next post, Part II of this series, will explore the potential criminal defense strategies that could be employed to combat these two charges.

Source:, "Assault and Battery," Accessed Dec. 26, 2014

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