Distinction between assault & battery

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Written by Elton Jenkins

Elton Jenkins is the founder of Elton Jenkins Law, P.L.L.C. which serves Oklahoma in both Criminal Defense and Family Law matters.

October 20, 2021

It is not uncommon for individuals to be confused about the difference between assault and battery. Often, people can face multiple charges at the same time.

Confusingly, a person may face a battery charge that includes assault. However, an assault cannot also be battery. For these reasons, it is important to understand the distinction between the two. Outlined below are the fundamental aspects of each crime.

What is assault?

The law relating to assault in Oklahoma is outlined in Okla. Stat. tit. 21, § 641. Crucially, the act must be intentional. Furthermore, the behavior should be unlawful. Finally, a threat or attempt of physical harm must have been made to another person.
Importantly, physical contact is not a necessity. For instance, intentionally making someone believe that you are going to harm them, without following through with the physical act, could still qualify as assault.

What is battery?

Okla. Stat. tit. 21, § 642 sets out the law of battery in Oklahoma. Essentially, battery is the intentional act of causing physical harm to another person. To qualify as battery, it must be shown that you had the motive to hurt the individual and that your actions were unlawful.
The key distinction between assault and battery lies with physical contact. For the crime of battery to apply, there must be physical contact that results in some form of injury. One common form of battery occurs where an individual punches the other party during a heated argument.
A useful way to think about assault is to consider it in terms of an individual making another person afraid of injury. Whereas, battery may be considered as following through with an act that causes physical harm to another person.
Knowing the difference between assault and battery is in your best interests. Moreover, being familiar with the law could ensure your legal protection and result in the best possible outcome for your case.

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