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Are assault and battery the same thing?

You may think assault and battery mean the same thing if you have been charged with both of them in New Jersey. However, as FindLaw explains, assault and battery are separate crimes even though they are closely related, and an assault often leads to a battery.

To convict you of either crime, the prosecutor must prove that you committed a specific act and that you intended to commit it. But both the intent and the act are different for each crime.

Assault

When you assault someone, you intend to threaten or harm him or her. For example, when you intend to frighten someone by saying or doing something to him or her, that is sufficient intent for assault. As for the actual act of assault, you only need to act in such a way as to make your victim, or any reasonable person, fear for his or her safety.

Usually threatening words alone do not rise to the level of an assault, but this is not always true. If your words were threatening enough or vile enough, a judge or jury may conclude that you verbally assaulted your victim. Usually, however, you must act in such a manner that any reasonable person would consider it dangerous, even if you did not actually intend to harm a particular person.

Battery

Assault is your attempt to harm someone. Battery is the harm you do. The prosecutor must prove all three of the following things to convict you of battery:

  1. You intentionally touched your victim.
  2. You touched your victim in an offensive or harmful way.
  3. Your victim did not consent to your touching.

As to your intent to batter your victim, you did not need to intend to actually harm him or her, just to touch him or her. This information is only intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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