The Difference Between Assault and Battery

There can be a lot of confusion around the difference between a crime of assault and battery and in the state of Massachusetts, you can either be charged with the crime of assault or the crime of assault and battery. It’s very common for individuals to use the two terms interchangeably, but there are a lot of differences between the two.

The Difference Between Crimes of Assault and Assault and Battery

According to Massachusetts state law, a battery is “harmful or unpermitted touching of another person” and is when someone hits another person or touches them with the intent of harm. Assault is the events leading up to a battery, but a battery does not have to occur for an assault to be present.

There are two types of assault:

  1. Attempted Battery – An attempt to use physical force against another
  2. Immediate Threatened Battery – Demonstrating the intent to physically harm an individual

When a prosecutor is establishing an attempted battery, they must prove the defendant:

  • Intended to commit a battery
  • Took a step towards accomplishing the battery
  • Came close to committing the battery on an individual

When a prosecutor is establishing an immediate threatened battery, they must prove the defendant:

  • Intended to frighten the victim into believing they would be harmed; and
  • Made a step towards the individual that caused the victim to be fearful of harm

Elements of the Crime of Assault and Battery

There are several elements under Massachusetts state law the combine together to form a crime of assault and battery. These include:

  1. The defendant touched another individual without the right or a valid reason to do so;
  2. The defendant intended to touch the individual;
  3. The touch was to cause bodily harm or without the individual’s consent.

The element of touch must be proved by the prosecutor, but the intent of bodily harm is not required to prove a crime of assault and battery.

Penalties for Assault and Assault and Battery

Under Massachusetts state law, if you are convicted of a crime of assault or a crime of assault and battery, you may be facing:

  • Up to 2 ½ years in a house of corrections; or
  • A fine up to $1,000

Attorney Benjamin Urbelis

With more complex cases, additional penalties might be added.

If you are facing a conviction of the crime of assault or the crime of assault and battery, contact our criminal defense team at Urbelis Law at (617) 830-2188.

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