Assault, Battery, And Aggravated Assault: What's The Difference?

Posted on: 19 September 2019

If you've been charged with a crime, one of the best ways you can help yourself is by carefully understanding the charges against you and what they potentially mean. Doing so gives you the ability to make educated decisions about your case and to better assist your attorney in your own defense.

Assault, battery, and aggravated assault all sound similar and they all involve an intentional act of violence toward another person -- but they're distinctly different charges with different potential penalties. Here's what you should know about the differences.


Assault charges tend to confuse a lot of people. If all you did was utter some threats without acting on them, you may be charged with simple assault. No actual physical violence has to have occurred, but the other person must reasonably have been in fear that you were about to inflict immediate bodily harm for the assault charge to stick.

For example, if you hurl a threat to hit your neighbor with a shovel for dumping snow in your driveway but you're empty-handed at the time and across the street, that's a pretty empty threat. On the other hand, if you actually run toward your neighbor with a shovel raised, you're making the threat much more credible.


A battery charge is often connected to an assault charge. In general, a battery is any sort of unpermitted touching or contact between you and the victim that most people would find offensive or harmful. It's important to understand that you can be guilty of battery even if you didn't mean to hurt the victim.

For example, imagine that you're with friends and you're daring each other to jump off a bridge into a lake. You impulsively push one of your friends as he leans over the ledge to look at the distance, and he falls and gets injured. You could easily be charged with battery even though you didn't mean to hurt your friend.

Aggravated Assault

Aggravated assault laws vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction quite a bit, but the general idea is that an "aggravated" assault is more serious than a simple assault or even a battery charge. Aggravated assault is always a felony while both assault and battery may be misdemeanors. In some areas, having a deadly weapon, like a knife or a gun, in your hand while you commit another crime is enough to earn an aggravated assault charge.

For example, imagine that you rob a convenience store with a gun. Waving the gun around and threatening the clerk could easily provoke a charge of aggravated assault.

If you're facing charges in connection with an assault, talk to a criminal defense lawyer today.