The Difference Between Assault and Battery Charges

Assault and battery charges are similar to each other and not just in the fact that they are both crimes. In some conversation, the words are used interchangeably and some people believe you can only be charged with assault and battery, but that’s not actually right. Though the crimes are similar and some may find themselves charged with assault and battery, you can technically be charged with just assault or just battery. It is important to know the difference because it can mean different punishments and different defense strategies for your criminal defense attorney to pursue.


It is a common misconception that assault means there was physical harm done resulting in the charge, but it is actually the other way around. Battery means that there was injury and physical harm done while assault is merely threatening harm to another person.

For example, menacingly telling someone you are going to kill them or making other such threats of harm can mean an assault charge if the victim feels threatened. You threatened them with harm and this is the definition of assault. If you actually threw a punch after making those threats, then the charge would become assault and battery because you used physical violence. In a similar situation, if you simply threw a punch out of the blue at someone without making a threat first, then it would simply be a battery charge, although these situations are a little rarer since battery rarely comes without assault first.


As an assault charge is merely the threat of violence, you can be facing assault charges even if you never touched another person. Usually without actual violence, conviction rates for assault alone are low and punishments are somewhat light. However, this doesn’t mean you should just ignore an assault arrest.

Furthermore, assault can become aggravated assault if certain criteria are met. For example, if you made a threat against someone with a firearm on your person, this will automatically become aggravated assault which, as a felony, has much harsher punishments and will leave a very permanent mark on your criminal record.


If you are looking at any criminal charges, especially violent ones like assault and battery, your first call should be to a skilled criminal defense lawyer. Assault charges alone can fall away under some pressure depending on the circumstances, but you need a lawyer to bring that pressure. By contacting a skilled criminal defense attorney, they can help find flaws in the charges to hopefully get them dropped. If nothing else, their representation can help present mitigating factors to make sure the punishment is limited.

The one thing you definitely don’t want to do is contact the victim to get the charges dropped. While you might wish to explain your side, it can hurt your case badly. Furthermore, contacting the victim can be seen as making further threats to them, even if that was not your intention. Your lawyer will clearly advise you against this, but if you choose to try to get the charged dropped before talking to a criminal defense attorney, you may hurt your case beyond repair.

If you have been arrested for assault or battery in Minnesota, contact us today. These charges will never just “go away” on their own, you need to treat them very seriously and fight back for your innocence. If you don’t want to be stuck with the consequence of an assault conviction, let the dedicated team at Speas Law Firm come to your defense.