How are assault and battery different from each other?

If Missouri law enforcement officers charged you with assault and battery after you participated in a fight or argument, you may think you face one criminal charge. Actually, you face two. As FindLaw explains, while assault and battery are very similar, they are not the same, and the prosecutor must be able to prove different things before you receive a conviction or either.

For either alleged crime, the prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you had the intent to commit it and that you did one or more things to accomplish your intent.

Assault

You did not have to hurt anyone to commit an assault. All the prosecutor need prove is that you intended to harm or threaten your alleged victim. If (s)he became frightened for his or her physical safety because of what you said and the way in which you said it, that is sufficient to prove you assaulted him or her.

Usually you must do more than simply utter words in order to assault someone. You must also commit an act. This act, however, need not amount to much. For instance, if you move toward your alleged victim while shouting at him or her, or raise your clenched fists or wave a weapon such as a gun or beer bottle in his or her face, these are sufficient acts to convict you of assault.

Battery

Oftentimes, an assault proceeds to a battery because you intentionally make physical contact with your alleged victim. To convict you of battery, the prosecutor must prove only that you intended to touch your alleged victim and did so, not that you necessarily intended to hurt him or her via the touch. The other two elements of battery are that your alleged victim did not consent to your touching and that your touch, regardless of your intent, offended or harmed him or her.

This is general information only and not intended to provide legal advice.

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