Legal Blog

What’s the Difference Between Assault and Battery?

Author Clark & Noonan, LLC
Posted June 16, 2017
Category Assault and Aggravated Assault

Wall New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorneys serving Monmouth County, Ocean County, Middlesex County and all surrounding NJ areas.

Posted: February 3, 2017

Assault and battery are criminal and/or civil acts which involve the striking or offensive touching of an individual or the perceived striking and/or offensive touching of an individual.

Under the common law (or the law as it existed before specific statutes were enacted) assault was defined as the immediate perception of being struck. It was not the actual striking. In other words, an assault would occur when an individual was in imminent fear of being struck by a person and/or object.

At common law, battery was the actual harmful or offense contact, which occurred. In other words, an assault would occur when the victim perceived the punch being thrown in his or her direction, the battery, occurs when the punch actually makes contact with the victim. Because the two events can occur within seconds of one another, they are often grouped together and thought of as the same offense.

Under the most modern statutes, including the New Jersey statutes, assault is defined as the touching and/or striking with the intent to cause harm. Depending on the seriousness of the harm intended, the crime of assault can be a disorderly persons offense, which carries a maximum of six months in the county jail, or assault can be a crime of the second degree, which carries a maximum of 10 years in a New Jersey state prison with a potential period of parole ineligibility.

The reason the statutes in New Jersey eliminated the distinction between assault and battery and identified all harmful touching as assault is because the legislature has made the attempt of any crime, including an assault, a criminal offense. Therefore, any attempt to strike an individual with the intent to cause harm to that individual will be considered an assault. As stated above, the seriousness of the assault offense will depend upon the harm in which the individual sought to cause.

If you or someone you know has been charged with the crime of assault, call our New Jersey criminal defense lawyers as soon as possible at 732-333-3011. One of our attorneys will set up a time to discuss your assault case with you.

Our criminal defense attorneys at Clark & Noonan, LLC represent individuals who have been charged with assault in all New Jersey counties and cities including the counties of Monmouth and Hudson as well as the cities of Red Bank and Hoboken.

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