When we hear the term assault and battery, we think of a violent crime where someone has been injured. Assault and battery are not the same crime. They are two separate crimes, each with their own penalties and punishments. The two crimes often occur at the same time and therefore we hear them grouped together. If you are ever accused of assault or battery, our assault and battery attorneys believe it is important that you know the difference.


Assault is the intentional threat of physical harm, using words or actions, with the ability to carry those actions out. If the words or actions created a fear in the victim that violence was imminent, (example, raised fists or getting very close in a threatening way) they have been assaulted. No physical contact mustbe made for a person to be charged with and convicted of assault. If someone is waving a club around or a branch and they accidentally strike and injure the other person that is assault. But because the person was touched, it can also be a battery charge.

There are different levels of assault; it depends on the seriousness of the crime. You can be charged with assault for touching someone that did not want you to have contact with them. This includes sexual assault, but it doesn’t have to be. If the victim felt scared because your hand was anywhere on their body, you can be charged with assault.

Assault can be 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree depending on the seriousness of the crime. It can also be a misdemeanor or a felony.

Even charges for minor offenses will follow you for the rest of your life. You will at the very least get probation, a permanent mark on your record. But on the other end of the spectrum, it can cost you thousands of dollars and jail time.


Battery is a more serious crime, and it carries harsher penalties. A battery occurs when contact is made with the victim. If someone threatens to strike you with a club, that is assault. If they strike you with the club, that is battery. As with assault, there are different degrees of the crime, and the punishment varies. Also, in New York, if you touch someone in a sexual way or harm them physically, they can bring an additional legal action against you. The courts could order you to pay them for the trauma, and if they had to seek medical help because of your action, you could be held liable for that as well.

It is very important that a person charged with assault or battery hires one of the most experienced assault and battery lawyers. As you can tell, the small details of the incident can make a huge difference.

There are several defenses that should be considered. They include:

  • Self-defense
  • Lack of intent
  • Consent
    • This could apply if the battery took place during a contact sport

It takes a qualified and experienced criminal defense attorney to handle assault and battery charges in New York. A conviction could change your life. The consequences are serious; even a minor penalty is one you do not want to pay for in the future.