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What is the difference between assault and battery?

Although related, battery and assault are separate crimes. Individuals committing these acts often receive a misdemeanor offense with different punishments based on the severity of the incident.

Understanding the difference between the two crimes will help you if face these charges in the future.

The main difference

The primary difference between assault or battery charges hinges upon whether or not the offender physically touched the victim. Assault is the threat of illegal or unwanted touching as well as the offending creating the fear of harm against the victim. On the other hand, battery happens when harm occurs to the victim from unwanted touching or interaction. Although harm must occur, there is the potential for the offender to harm the individual without personally touching the victim. This means the offender could harm the victim by touching something the individual is holding.

The law’s definition

Even though this is a basic definition of the difference between these crimes, North Carolina law deals with the issue more generally. It specifically uses the word “assault” to apply to these situations. Simple assault is a charge where the offender threatens another person or touches them in a threatening or unwanted manner. By adding a knife or gun to the situation, the charge progresses to assault with a deadly weapon. Based on the situation, battery and assault charges can fall under both a misdemeanor or felony classification.

The punishment for either of these charges depends solely on the details of the case and the decision of the court. Both misdemeanors and felony charges can result in jail time.