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Is there a difference between the crimes of assault and battery?

Most Maryland residents have probably heard of the terms "assault" and "battery." They also know that the terms are used in criminal cases when someone is charged with striking and injuring another person. However, they may not know that while the two words are often used together, they actually mean two different things. So, what is the difference between assault and battery?

Battery is closely associated with assault, which is why they are frequently used together. The crime of assault means that a person has threatened another with physical violence, while the crime of battery is the actual physical act of striking another person. That means if someone believed that another person was going to hit them, they would be the victim of an assault, while they would be the victim of battery if they were actually struck by another person.

Another difference between assault and battery is how these two crimes are perceived by the criminal justice system. An assault is usually considered a felony crime and anyone convicted of assault can face the more substantial consequences that align with a felony. However, the crime of battery can be considered either a misdemeanor or a felony. For example, a charge of simple battery is usually filed as a misdemeanor, while a battery case where the victim was either a child or a helpless adult, or where serious injuries occurred to the victim, can be charged as a felony.

It's important to remember that the act of battery can be both a crime and a tort, meaning that a defendant can be charged with the crime and can also face a private lawsuit from the alleged victim as well. Any Maryland resident who is facing either an assault or battery charge may want to get more information in order to find out what type of legal strategies can be used to defend against these charges.

Source:, "Battery law", Accessed July 23, 2016

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