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Assault and battery are two violent crimes that involve threatening harm or causing actual harm to another person. In some states, assault and battery remain two separate crimes, while others have slowly merged the two into one general crime. Additionally, many states apply a more serious charge of aggravated assault or battery when severe injury occurs or the act is committed with a deadly weapon.

Assault is typically defined as an intentional act that puts another individual in apprehension of immediate harm. Assault thus criminalizes the threat of harm itself, rather than requiring that actual harm has occurred. For this reason, it is sometimes also known as “attempted battery.” Since assault is an intentional act, it cannot be committed by accident. This means that a perpetrator must have intended to cause fear in another person, or that he or she acted in a way that was knowingly dangerous, even if a specific individual was not targeted. Assault does not require that the victim fear being subjected to severe bodily harm or death. Any reasonable fear is sufficient.

Battery is, in many ways, the completion of an assault. Battery is defined as an intentional offensive or harmful touching of another person that is done without his or her consent. Since an assault is the threatening of harm, and a battery is the actual act of harm, the two crimes are often charged together. As with assault, battery requires that the perpetrator intended to commit the act. Thus, for instance, if a man accidentally hits a shopper with his grocery cart while in the supermarket, this would probably not be a battery. If, however, the man was acting with criminal recklessness or negligence, this might be sufficient. 


Attorney Susan M. Costa, P.C. has been handling Assault & Battery cases for 11 years and can help you through such troubling times. Attorney Costa, named a rising star by Super Lawyers, has emerged as a top criminal defense lawyers in Massachusetts earning her reputation the old fashioned way: winning one case at a time. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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