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What is assault and battery?

On Behalf of | Dec 22, 2022 | Criminal Defense

If you watch television news, there’s a good chance you have heard the phrase “assault and battery.” When a New Jersey resident is being charged with such a crime, the nature of the act may not be readily apparent. Furthermore, those two terms have been used interchangeably as though they are one and same. However, there is a material difference.


An assault is the threat of physical attack to someone’s person. If someone conveys an immediate and imminent threat of harm, the victim may feel as though they are going to be injured. The threat emanated from the perpetrator’s stated or demonstrated actions and perceived to be credible by the victim. However, it doesn’t include unintentional, benign physical contact.

There are factors that could make an assault “aggravated”, thus making it more serious and results in greater consequences. Threats in this category may be directed toward vulnerable populations such as children or the elderly. In addition, the presence of a weapon may also upgrade the charge to aggravated assault.


Battery is the intentional physical or attempted physical harm of someone without their consent. The act can also be offensive in lieu of physically harmful. Where this occurs, battery is still present. For example, if someone spits on someone else, this could be considered offensive; thus, an act of battery will have occurred. An act of battery may also stem from the unwanted touching of someone in an inappropriate manner without their consent.

A person doesn’t have to be injured after being attacked for battery to occur. It is the intentional physical act of violence that defines battery. When a person is charged with these crimes, relief may be available. And, if the battery was done to protect oneself and can prove it, that is a valid defense.