How Do Assault and Battery Differ in Domestic Violence?

Those accused of domestic violence may face charges of assault and battery, but some may not realize that such a charge is often more complicated than the accusation of causing physical harm. According to Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute, assault and battery may carry a variety of different meanings in today’s modern court system.

Individuals facing assault and battery charges may want to understand how the term applies to their unique situations and which they may face depending on the circumstances of their arrest.

Individual charges

While assault and battery charges often come combined in a domestic violence case, each is its own separate crime. Assault occurs when individuals cause fear or worry in others that harm is inevitable and forthcoming. As such, assault can include verbal or written threats, such as those made over social media.

Battery refers to the actual act of physical violence. A variety of actions usually fall under the term, including:

  • Punching
  • Kicking
  • The use of any weapon

Those who face assault and battery charges have allegedly committed each crime either at the same time or within a short span of time.

Charge circumstances

Assault and battery are closely linked in many state statutes because they almost always occur together in cases of domestic violence. For example, one spouse may threaten another over text and then commit the assault shortly after confronting them in person. The nature of the charges, whether they happen individually or together, can vary widely depending on the details of each case.

Those who file assault charges may have to prove they had reasonable cause to fear imminent harm. Witnesses and written accusations may help strengthen a claim.

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