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What is Battery in Law?


Though assault and battery are often lumped together as separate criminal offenses, each warrants specific legal charges. While assault centers around intent and its impact on victim perceptions, battery requires actual physical contact.

Defense against a battery charge can be complex. Evidence that proves your innocence will be critical to adequate protection.


Battery, unlike assault, involves unlawful, offensive physical contact between individuals, as opposed to assault which consists in placing the victim under reasonable fear that he or she will be touched or injured by the defendant. Most states define battery as either a misdemeanor or felony depending on its severity and any injuries sustained from contact; in certain instances, the law also defines “aggravated” battery which often carries harsher penalties than traditional battery charges.

To be charged with battery, a defendant must demonstrate an explicit intent to engage in offensive contact against another party’s body – any part that can be reached with hands. It can include anything touched with an elbow or knee, including touching sensitive areas like genitals or areas exhibiting cuts and bruises on the body. Any contact must offend an ordinary person with average sensibilities and make their victim feel unsafe and threatened by it. Under most laws, being accidentally bumped by another passenger on a crowded commuter train probably does not qualify as a battery; however, such contact could be eligible if the offending party had prior knowledge of their hypersensitive condition and used the connection to scare away an unsuspecting victim intentionally.

Though the law sets forth essential elements of battery offenses, their specific application to each case can often be intricate. An attorney experienced in defending against battery charges can assist clients with understanding these complexities of the law as they apply specifically to them, help reduce fines or jail time, and protect the client’s reputation and privacy.

Assault and battery are closely interlinked crimes. A conviction for assault in some jurisdictions could result in up to 20 years in prison because it encompasses both aspects of violence. Other states incorporate battery into simple and aggravated assault statutes, allowing an individual to be charged with both acts simultaneously. As someone may be charged with assault even without physically touching another individual, should they carry out violent actions, both may be considered assault and battery offenses.


At common law, battery is defined as any intentional and unpermitted act which leads to harmful or offensive contact between individuals without their consent, often without harm being caused. The battery can both be considered tort and crime – in tort cases, civil damages may be awarded, while in criminal prosecutions, fines and imprisonment can apply depending on the circumstances of each case. A prosecutor must be able to prove four elements to convict someone for battery: intent, contact, harm, and damages.

The intent is of primary importance in any battery case; for the defendant to have been found guilty, their intention must have been clear to contact and injure someone. Furthermore, intent may also be required if weapons such as guns or knives are involved.

The next element of a battery case is contact itself, which must either be offensive or harmful, directly or indirectly. Examples of indirect contact include spitting at someone or spraying with a water hose. Dangerous acts include anything that makes the victim uncomfortable, such as pain, humiliation, or distress, and violations against their sense of dignity.

Contact doesn’t necessarily need to be physical; it could include coming into contact with another’s body or possessions; skin contact; clothing or hair pulling or tugging; even instrumentalism like vehicles, guns, or knives can constitute a battery. Some jurisdictions recognize two forms of battery: attempted and threatened battery assaults (see Section 10, “Attempted Battery and Threatened Battery Assaults”).

Battery cases require proof of harm caused by the defendant. This could range from physical bruises and broken bones to psychological trauma caused by their actions. Some states require actual injury for a battery charge, while others only need evidence that puts fear into victims and that injuries were likely imminent or likely to be present at some time in the future.


If you face battery charges, having the right defense can help protect you from jail time and fines. Common defenses include self-defense and defense of others. Another possible legal argument would be property defense which allows the use of force to defend belongings legally under the law. For best results in these instances, it’s wise to consult a knowledgeable attorney who will carefully analyze all aspects of your case to create the most suitable defense strategy for each unique patient.

An intent factor in battery charges is of primary significance; the prosecution must prove you had specific plans to cause physical contact between yourself and the victim. Some jurisdictions have narrowly defined what constitutes battery; spitting on someone could even be an act of battery in certain jurisdictions – your attorney will investigate the definition of battery in your area to ascertain whether or not the prosecution has met their burden of proof.

Intent can be hard to prove. Your attorney can challenge the prosecution’s claim that you had a specific dream when touching someone by asserting it was an accidental contact. This argument can work exceptionally well if consent was given or when contact occurred involuntarily, such as touching a wheelchair or car.

You may use the mistaken identity defense if a witness or victim misidentifies you as the one responsible for battery, and an alibi defense can also help prove that you were somewhere other than where the crime was committed.

Battery and assault are closely interconnected offenses; depending on your jurisdiction, either charge may be prosecuted separately or jointly. Assault involves either trying to commit or inciting fear that someone will commit battery against another. Some jurisdictions define specific attacks as batteries, such as attacking elderly or disabled persons on public property or discharging bodily secretions onto someone.

Combatting assault and battery charges can be daunting, but an experienced criminal defense attorney can use targeted strategies to have them reduced or dismissed altogether. A knowledgeable legal professional will defend your rights by suppressing evidence improperly obtained, discrediting witnesses, or challenging evidence presented as evidence against you.


Battery is a serious offense with harsh punishments that vary based on the severity and aggravating circumstances, including allegations involving deadly weapons or force. The term of imprisonment usually ranges between one month to five years in county jail; fines or victim compensation payments may also apply as penalties; defendants may also need to attend anger management classes or complete community service projects, depending on whether their charges are misdemeanors or felonies as well as previous records.

Battery charges require that the defendant knowingly touch another in a way which was harmful or offensive, going beyond what assault requires; battery requires more intent from an actor who knows or reasonably suspects their action could cause dangerous contact; however, victims do not need to feel directly offended; accidental kicks or being spat upon can count as offensive behaviors in most people’s eyes.

The sexual orientation of the victim can aggravate battery cases when there is physical harm involved, while targeting special victims such as police officers or elderly people may increase penalties significantly.

The battery can vary depending on the jurisdiction; in general, most states define battery as intentional or, at least with men’s rea, the necessary intent for criminal acts. However, some jurisdictions limit battery as any act that causes unwanted contact but violates laws nonetheless.

Mental state plays an integral part in determining an actor’s sentence in cases involving battery. Some defenses against conviction may include consent, mistaken identity, privilege, necessity, and self-defense; furthermore, some jurisdictions have recently expanded the definition to include acts like spitting without their permission – although other courts might view such actions as assault instead; there are various statutory and common-law exemptions applicable when acts occur within certain degrees of relationship between actors involved.