Understanding the Difference Between Assault and Battery

On television and movies,people often hear of someone getting charged with assault and battery. This is one of those phrases that is heard so often that people assume it is one charge; but in reality, it is two distinct legal issues. Understanding the difference between assault and battery in Illinois is important when you’re facing one of these charges. The easiest way to understand the difference is to separate them out and define them.

What is Assault?

According to the Illinois legal code, assault is defined as when someone “engages in conduct which places another in reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery.” To put it simply, this would be a threat of bodily harm against another person. This threat could be verbal, or by making physical actions that would lead the person to believe that they are going to experience bodily harm.

In order to be convicted of assault, it needs to be shown that the action taken would be reasonably experienced as a real and immediate threat of bodily harm. You can’t typically threaten someone over the phone and have it be considered assault.

What is Battery?

Battery is, according to Illinois legal code, any action that, “causes bodily harm to an individual or makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with an individual.” Some common examples of battery would be punching someone, intentionally tripping someone, pushing them, hitting them with an object, etc. While the definition states that it must cause bodily harm, that is a very vague term. In fact, there have actually been cases where someone was convicted of battery for simply poking another individual with their finger.

In order to be convicted of criminal battery, it must be shown that not only did the person commit one or more of the actions above, but also that it was intentional and without legal justification. So, if someone is slipping and in order to try to balance themselves they accidentally push someone and cause them bodily harm, that is not battery. Likewise, if someone is the victim of assault and they hit someone in order to defend themselves, they also shouldn’t be convicted of battery.

Both are Serious Charges

While battery is clearly the more serious charge of the two, both can come with serious penalties, including fines and even jail time. If you are charged with either assault or battery, you need to have an effective legal defense strategy in place. Contact Abdallah Law to discuss your situation and get the representation you need.

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Abdallah Law

Abdallah Law has been a successful law firm serving the people of Chicago and the surrounding area for years. This success can be attributed to one thing: Our team. At Abdallah Law, protecting our clients’ rights and safeguarding their liberties is the driving force of everything we do.

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