“Assault and battery” is a combination of words so common it’s difficult to distinguish between the two. However, there are differences between these two crimes and if you have been charged with either/both of them, it is important to be familiar with them.
Let’s start with taking a closer look at “assault.” Contrary to popular belief, assault does not include acts of violence against another individual. Under Illinois law, someone who is charged with assault has “engaged in conduct which places another in reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery.” Assault is the threat of physical harm, an act that causes another person to feel that they will soon suffer physical harm. The act will result in a punishment for the individual making the threats even if the victim is not actually harmed.
Battery, on the other hand, is what the previously mentioned threats may eventually lead up to. When a person “causes bodily harm to an individual” or “makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with an individual," battery has been committed. The offender must act intentionally or knowingly without legal justification in order for the act to be criminal. Essentially, assault is the attempt to commit battery.
Intent is a key factor in both assault and battery. In court, it is typically only necessary for the defendant to have done the act voluntarily and knowingly. As Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes put it, “Even a dog distinguishes between stumbled over and being kicked.”
It is also important to realize that just physical contact can be enough to constitute battery. According to Illinois Legal Aid, one case concluded that a “finger poke in the chest” is a battery.
If you or somebody you know has been charged with assault or battery-or both-do not hesitate to contact an experienced Illinois criminal attorney who can assist you in presenting the best defense possible.