Assault is defined as a deliberate act that puts another person in fear of physical harm he or she is about to suffer. Whether actual physically harm was inflicted, the mere fact that the other person was made to fear its possibility is already an act deserving of punishment. Assault, however, is actually nothing more than a threat; infliction of physical harm on another is already referred to as battery.
Assault and battery were treated as separate crimes in the past, with battery referring to “completed” assault. Under modern laws, however, distinguishing between the two crimes is no longer made, so that the term assault alone may already be used to refer to crimes which involve actual physical violence. A person, however, can be convicted of assault without battery. This is the case when someone raises his or her fist in a threatening manner without actually throwing a punch; likewise, a person may be guilty of battery without assault if he or she pushes or punches another from behind.
Assault may be simple (treated as a misdemeanor crime) or aggravated (considered a felony), the latter involving the use of any kind of weapon, the offender shows intent to commit a serious crime, like rape, or if the assault is committed against someone with whom the offender has a relationship. If someone, however, physically harms another using a deadly weapon or with an intent to commit very serious harm, such as murder,, then the charge would be aggravated battery.
Punishment for assault and/or battery vary greatly among states. In some states, a person may face fines plus imprisonment depending on the severity of the offense committed and the offender’s criminal history; stiffer penalties most likely await repeat offenders. There will also be stiffer penalties for those who offend family members, someone living with the offender, or public servant, like a police officer, a paramedic, a firefighter, or a teacher.
The crime of assault and battery falls under the scope of tort law, which allows victims to file a lawsuit in a civil court for the purpose of seeking compensation. Regardless of the charges filed, though, whether criminal or civil, the prosecution, as explained in the website of Brent Horst Attorney At Law, must still prove every element of the crime for the defendant to be convicted. The defendant, on the other hand, can still hope to save himself or herself from being wrongfully accused with the help of a seasoned violent crimes attorney who can review the evidence, how it was collected to probe for weaknesses. The defendant can also be advised by his or her attorney if a plea bargain is an option worth exploring as well as what its consequences will be. While the defendant can choose to delay his or her action in hiring a legal counsel, he or she should understand that longer delays can affect the options they may have in dealing with the case.