Getting into an argument with another person is a common thing to happen. Whether you’re at school or out having fun on the weekend, disagreements are going to come up. But when is the line crossed? When does an argument become the crime of either assault or battery?
Georgia classifies assault and battery as two separate crimes, with each made up of different actions. Assault does not require any type of contact or touching with another person. Instead, simple assault occurs when the other person is placed in reasonable fear that they will be harmed by violence in some way. This could be accomplished by either threatening the other person or attempting some type of physical harm, but failing.
Battery, on the other hand, does require physical contact. That contact must be intentional – accidents or incidental contact won’t count. Simple battery also includes minor injuries, such as scrapes and bruises. More serious injuries can elevate the severity of the crime. So, while threatening to punch someone would be considered an assault, actually punching them would be a battery. Doing both would satisfy the requirements of both crimes.
While a simple assault is considered a misdemeanor, there are circumstances that can elevate it to an aggravated assault and therefore a felony. Those circumstances may include the use of a deadly weapon or assaulting someone who is elderly or pregnant.
Aggravated battery can also be a felony and is usually distinguished from simple battery by the level of injury caused. Broken bones, brain injury and organ damage would be examples of more serious injuries which would elevate an act from simple battery to aggravated battery.
If you’ve been accused of committing an assault or battery, it’s a good idea to speak to a professional who is experienced in Georgia criminal law. They can help you navigate your case and determine your best defense strategy moving forward.