- What is Assault?
- Understanding Battery and How It is Charged
- Was There General Intent?
- Common Defenses For Assault and Battery
- Defending Others
- Defending Your Property
- Consent of the Victim
- Reasons To Hire An Attorney For Assault and Battery
Assault and battery are severe violent crimes that involve threatening or physically harming another person. Most countries in the US consider assault and battery two different crimes. In some states, these two crimes have merged into one. This criminal act has varying degrees such as simple assault, aggravated assault, aggravated battery, or sexual battery. Most states apply a more serious charge when a severe injury occurs or if the act was committed with a deadly weapon. No matter whether you are guilty or falsely accused, an experienced criminal defense attorney can assist you and protect your legal rights.
What is Assault?Assault is typically defined as an act of threatening or physically harming another person intentionally. You could be charged with assault even if you didn’t physically harm another individual. Threatening another person is sufficient. This crime can sometimes also be defined as attempted battery.
Assault and battery are intentional acts, so you can never say you have committed it by accident. Even if you didn’t physically harm another individual, you have intended to cause fear in another person or acted in a way that was dangerous and threatening. In order to be charged with assault, the victim doesn’t have to fear of severe physical harm or death. Any reasonable fear is sufficient to file a lawsuit against the perpetrator.
There are many different types of assault. As we mentioned, aggravated assault or attempted assault are varying degrees of the crime and will all result in charges. The offense requires that the act is committed with the intention of threatening or causing harm. These acts can involve approaching another person with raised fists, scaring someone with a weapon, pushing someone and similar. It is essential to be aware that some sort of act (although it may be minimal) is required. Learn more.
For example, if a person who is known as a violent drunk is walking down the stress and approaches a woman, that is not considered an assault only because the woman was scared of him. In order to commit the mentioned criminal act, he must take some aggressive act directed at her. Verbal assault or stating a threat is not enough to create an assault unless the words are accompanied by additional actions that harm or cause the victim to fear the perpetrator.
Understanding Battery and How It is ChargedBattery is different from assault and simply put, it can be defined as the completion of an assault. In order to be charged for battery, you have to interact with another person physically. Intentional or harmful touching of another individual done without their consent can lead to charges. While assault is considered the threatening of harm, battery is the actual act of harm. Since threatening mostly advances to causing bodily harm, the two crimes are often charged together. Battery, same as assault, requires that the culprit intentionally committed the act. For example, if you accidentally hit someone such as with your grocery cart while shopping in the supermarket, you didn’t commit battery. However, if you have shown negligence or criminal recklessness, a lawsuit may be filed against you.
The act of battery doesn’t require that the victim is traumatized or seriously injured. Any type of physical interactions or touching that the victims consider harmful is sufficient. For example, if you intentionally pour a mug of hot coffee on someone, you have committed battery. In order to commit this criminal act, you don’t have to cause severe pain or injury. For example, a classic case of battery can include spitting on the victim.
However, it is also important to know that not every contact is considered battery or offensive simply because the victim is too sensitive. There are laws that determine what type of contact is considered offensive. Keep in mind that egregious acts will lead to elevated charges. Aggravated assault or battery may apply if you have threatened another person with a deadly weapon or if the victim is particularly vulnerable, such as a senior or a pregnant woman. The charges can also be elevated if the harm done to the victim is severe and long-lasting. In case, the culprit’s actions have caused death, he or she will be charged with attempted murder or manslaughter.
Was There General Intent?Apart from act requirement, in order to commit an assault or battery, you need to fulfill to intent requirement. Simply put, to commit an assault, you must have general intent to harm another individual. Although it is obvious that you cannot accidentally assault another person, the offender still has to show that he intended to commit the actions that can be defined as an assault. Acting in a way that is considered dangerous to other people is enough to support assault charges. An intention to scare another individual can also result in criminal charges. As with assault, in order to commit battery, you need to have a general intention to contact or cause contact with an individual. Although it may seem surprising, battery doesn’t require intent to harm the victim, only to make physical contact without their consent.
Additionally, acting negligent or criminally reckless while making such a contact, may establish an assault. However, accidentally bumping into someone is not battery even if the victim considered it offensive. If you believe you have been falsely accused of assault or battery, it is important to hire leading criminal attorneys to assist you. Experienced criminal defenders can examine and evaluate the circumstances of your case and determine whether or not there was general intent to commit the act.
Common Defenses For Assault and BatteryHiring a criminal attorney to prepare your defense is crucial in all cases of assault or battery, especially if two individuals were mutually involved in the attack. If you are concerned about a criminal assault charge, hiring a leading lawyer can help you understand your case and possible penalties that come in case of conviction. Assault and battery defense vary on the particular circumstances of your case. In case the basic elements of assault or battery exist, the defendant may use four basic defense strategies – self-defense, defense of others, defense of property, and consent.
Self-DefenseSelf-defense is the most common defense strategy used in assault and battery cases. However, it is not easy to establish self-defense. In order to use this defense strategy, the accused must show that the other party severely threatened him or used unlawful force to harm him. The accused one should have a reasonable basis for the perceived fear of harm. Harm or provocation on his part mustn’t exist, and lastly, the accused one should prove that there was no other way to avoid the situation or retreat.
In order to make things more clear, here are some examples of self-defense: Chris confronted Mike. Chris is a large and imposing stranger that immediately started shouting, verbally threatening him and raising his fists in a highly threatening manner. Since Mike is terrified, he strikes Chris and gets away at his first available opportunity. If these were the exact circumstances of the case, Mike could successfully prove he acted in self-defense.
Now let’s take a look at another example. Mike runs into Chris, and they get into an argument. Chris insults Mike, and Mike insults him back and threatens to beat him up. Chris then strikes Mike and Mike strikes back. Since Mike took part in escalating and provoking the fight by threatening Chris, it will be much harder to prove he was acting in self-defense.
It is also important to keep in mind that even you have all the reasons to act in self-defense. You have limits to the amount of force you use to defend yourself. The force used to protect yourself must be reasonable. Even if you meet all the elements to prove you acted in self-defense, you may still be charged with assault or battery if the other party was physically no match for you in the first place. This is mostly the case when you attacked a victim that is significantly smaller, younger or older than you.
When self-defense is raised at trial, there are other types of issues that may occur. For example, your criminal background and record will be checked. If you have a criminal record or past offenses for assault, you will have a hard time proving you were defending yourself even if that is the truth.
In any criminal trial for assault and battery, the defendant has the right to learn if the alleged victim has a criminal record. Your criminal defense attorney is able to get this information through a motion to the court for criminal records and use any pending cases or even dismissals on the victim’s record as evidence. This information can be very helpful to discover if the victim had any prior violent acts. When the court has the hard time establishing who was the first aggressor in the case, prior violent act may show the real culprit in the case.
Defending OthersThis defense strategy is similar to self-defense. However, the difference is that you were protecting another person. In order to act this way, you must have a real perceived fear of harm to another individual. The limitations that apply to self-defense also apply to this strategy. In order to establish that you were defending others, you must have reasonable grounds for your perceived fear and actions.
Defending Your PropertyUnder specific circumstances, the defendant in an assault or battery case may prove that he acted in defense of his property that was illegally invaded or withheld. Keep in mind that the availability of this defense is different from state to state. When available, it means an individual can use reasonable force to defend their property, especially when it comes to one’s home. Different laws apply when it comes to protecting personal property. For example, if there is a dispute over private property, you cannot use force to retrieve it. On the other hand, if the property is directly stolen from you, such as when someone snatches your purse or wallet, you may use reasonable force to recover what is yours. As we already stated, you don’t have the right to beat up another person to defend your property, only to use reasonable force. Otherwise, you may still end up with being charged with assault or battery.
Consent of the VictimDepending on the jurisdiction, permission of the victim may be a viable battery defense strategy. If the victim has consented voluntarily to a particular act, it cannot be perceived as an assault or battery. Of course, there are certain limits to this defense option. If the consent of the victim exceeds the provided permission, it can be asserted in a way to constitute grounds for the charge. Using victim’s approval as a defense strategy is usually not a good idea because courts scrutinize it as a defense and consider that any harmful actions, even if the victim consented to them, should not be tolerated and must be punished appropriately.
Consent is a viable defense option in prosecutions for sexual assault, rather than battery. The issue of consent is essential in areas of sport and domestic relationships. For example, in sports, violence between players in a game doesn’t necessarily constitute as criminal behavior. Although the elements of battery are present, legal experts argue that the players had given their consent to these actions before the game started. Approval is something that is presumed by the participation of the players in the sport. But the question is what specific acts players have given their consent to? When some players become rougher than they have to be, we cannot assume that the injured player consented to this violence.
When it comes to domestic battery cases, there is no approval given, so that shouldn’t be used as a defense in court. The mere fact that the defendant was married to the victim does not presume consent and cannot operate as a defense. Every assault or battery case is unique and may raise interesting and challenging questions involving the elements of the offenses, their defenses, as well as the situations in which they should be charged. Go right here.
Reasons To Hire An Attorney For Assault and BatteryAs you can see, if you are facing charges for battery or assault, there are many defenses you can use to get out of trouble. However, without an experienced criminal attorney by your side, you will not know what strategy will work in your case best. Since every situation is unique, you need to hire an attorney to go through the circumstances of the case and identify the best defense strategy.
Through careful case analysis and collaboration with other experts, your attorney will find the evidence to establish facts in your favor. Most assault and battery cases can be finished in a trial, so it is vital to start with the process as early as possible. These cases are treated very seriously in court, and only a qualified legal professional can help you devise a plan that will minimize the consequences of a conviction. Penalties and consequences of assault and/or battery conviction depend on the law of the state where the crime was committed. The circumstances of the case may lead to aggravated or reduced charges. Typical punishments include fines and imprisonment. The severity of penalties mostly depends on the severity of the offense and the perpetrator’s criminal background and history. First-time offenders may get away with some fines and community services, while subsequent offenders or ones who have a criminal record will undoubtedly receive harsher penalties.
In case you have committed aggravated assault or battery, you will be charged with a felony. Aggravated assault/battery is considered a felony in all states. It is also important to be aware that committing a crime against certain classes of victims, such as public servants, or a family member, you may experience aggravated charged or enhanced penalties. For example, committing a battery against a police officer, paramedic, teacher or a firefighter is considered assaulting a public servant. In case you attacked a family member, pregnant women, a senior, you may face harsher penalties. Assaults or batteries committed against family members are often prosecuted under domestic abuse or violence laws.
Also, each state may create different levels or degrees of severity for this crime, and each level has its own range of sentencing. The only way to make sure you know what possible penalties you may be facing is to contact a local criminal defender. These experts are well familiarized with sentencing laws in their state as well as a variety of factors that can aggravate your charges. Since every case is different, there is no way you can determine on your own what possible penalties you may be facing in case of a conviction.
If you believe you may face some severe penalties or time in prison due to your crime, it is imperative to hire a leading criminal defender to ensure you get a fair trial and fight for your rights. Even if you have a great mind and a high IQ, representing yourself in a criminal trial is never a good idea. Although it may seem as you understand the circumstances of your case and the law, no criminal case is exactly like another, and only an attorney at law can pick out the special portions of your case, and spot specific arguments and factors that could turn the situation in your favor. Having an attorney by your side in a criminal trial is not an option, but a necessity. Go here.
Criminal defense lawyers can help you in many ways. They will successfully navigate you through the legal system, and make sure you follow not only written rules but also many "unwritten rules" that exist in every legal process. They can call witnesses in your defense, conduct witness cross-examination, and work with the prosecutors to negotiate a deal. These deals or plea bargains can often reduce your sentence or even eliminate some charges. However, prosecutors will never take you seriously if you try to negotiate on your own. On the other hand, they will definitely want to speak with a reputable attorney. Since criminal lawyers have excellent communication and negotiation skills, they have high chances to get you a favorable deal.
Apart from plea bargaining, they can also figure out a good sentencing program for your situation. In case of a conviction, lawyers can fight to reduce your penalties or substitute them with more favorable ones. For example, instead of going to prison for ten months, you can spend six months in jail and four months on probation or in mandatory counseling.More content.
Since attorneys at law know much better what is going on during your criminal trial, they can provide you a reality check and offer insights into how the case is actually going, what will likely happen in the near future, and how will the trial end. These assessments are crucial when the offender is trying to decide whether or not to accept a plea deal. A criminal defender also always keeps in mind the potential costs of pleading guilty. As an amateur, you may not be aware of the consequences of pleading guilty, even if it’s the way to shorten your sentence. For example, by pleading guilty, you will still end up with a criminal record that may limit your employment opportunities in the future.
By having a lawyer on your side, you will gather evidence and statements from witnesses much easier. Keep in mind that witnesses sometimes refuse to give statements or information to people who were involved in a crime because they fear for their own safety. However, a criminal lawyer knows how to approach them and ask for information. Witnesses take the word of attorneys seriously and put a lot of trust in them. Therefore, they will be more willing to talk to about their upcoming testimony.
Apart from gathering evidence and statements from witnesses, your attorney can also contact investigators and hire expert witnesses that will present evidence in your favor or prove your innocence. The hired investigators will investigate not only the crime, but also the testimonies of the witnesses, and look for evidence that makes those testimonies less viable. Without professional legal assistance, it is impossible to prove your innocence or gather enough evidence to build a solid defense. Schedule a one-on-one consultation with an attorney in your area today. We are currently working with outstanding criminal lawyers in Washington, D.C., Manassas Virginia, Philadelphia PA, Washington DC, Chicago, San Diego, Harrisburg Pennsylvania, Orlando, and Milwaukee. Contact us today to schedule a free evaluation of your current case.