Assault and Battery: Who Can be Held Guilty of This Act?

Assault is a deliberate act which puts a person in fear of physical harm that he or she may be about to suffer. This definition connotes that physically harm need not be inflicted and that merely causing another person to fear its possibility is already an act that deserves punishment.

Assault, however, is just a threat. If there is actual physical harm on another person, then this would be battery. Before, assault and battery were considered separate crimes, with battery being taken as “completed” assault. Currently, however, many modern laws no longer distinguish between the two crimes and refer to assault as a crime of actual physical violence (despite the absence of distinction, it is still possible for a person to be convicted only of assault without battery, such as when he or she raises his or her fist in a threatening manner, but without actually throwing a punch. In like manner, a person may be convicted only of battery without assault, such as when he or she pushes or punches someone else from behind, without first making nay threats).

With regard to the penalties and sentences for an assault and/or battery conviction, state laws vary greatly. Conviction can include fines and/or imprisonment, and, depending on how severe the offense is and the criminal history of the offender, a repeat offense will most likely result to stiffer penalties. Stiffer penalties will also be meted out on offenders whose victim is a family member, a person living with the offender, or a public servant, such as a police officer, a firefighter, a paramedic or a teacher.

Assault (or simple assault) is a misdemeanor crime; however, if the threat is made with a weapon of any kind or with the resolve to commit a serious crime, then this shall be considered as aggravated assault, which is a felony. Likewise, an assault committed against a person, with whom the offender has a relationship, is considered an aggravated assault or a felony. A person, on the other hand, commits an aggravated battery if he or she accomplishes it using a deadly weapon or if he or she has intent to commit murder or other serious harm.

As pointed out by a San Diego personal injury attorney, the courts can punish more than just the perpetrator of violence and assault. Legally, people who aid and abet, counsel or encourage the assailant or assailants are liable, even if they did not physically harm the victim or victims. In addition, owners of a property or a business firm where the attack occurs, can be held legally liable if the case is assault.

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