It is essential to understand the differences between assault and battery because these terms are often used interchangeably, even though they have different legal meanings. While a person can commit both crimes in the same act, a person can also commit one of the acts and not the other.
What is assault?
Assault is an intentional act that causes a person to fear immediate bodily harm. What distinguishes an assault from a battery is that in an assault, physical contact does not need to occur for the crime to be committed.
An assault can involve verbal threats or menacing gestures, which could lead a person to believe that they are in immediate danger of physical harm.
What is battery?
Battery, however, involves intentional and unwanted physical contact with another person. In other words, deliberately touching another person without their consent and committing bodily harm or provoking physical contact constitutes battery.
Interchangeable nature of assault and battery
As is the case in many other states, in Illinois, assault and battery charges often go together. The reason these crimes often occur together is because if someone threatens you and then physically harms you, they have committed both offenses in the same act. However, each of these crimes can occur separately.
Illinois classifies these crimes as misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the severity of the offense and aggravating factors.
For example, using a weapon or causing significant physical harm to another person is penalized differently than in the case of a simple assault, a misdemeanor for which an individual would likely have to pay fines and be placed on probation.
Understanding the common factors and the differences between these crimes is extremely important because of the differences in charges and penalties.
A clear understanding of the legal definition of assault and battery and the differences between the two is critical for anyone charged with either or both.