Assault, aggravated assault, battery and aggravated battery are all common criminal charges you might face in the United States. It’s important to know the differences between the types of assault and battery and the penalties involved with each one.
Battery actually requires that physical contact be made between the offender and the victim — serious threats, on the other hand, fall squarely under the category of assault. Battery charges are typically more serious in nature than assault charges.
According to statistics provided by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), assault and battery charges often outpace charges of murder, rape and all other types of violent crime. While there is no formal distinction between aggravated assault and aggravated battery under the U.S. Code, most state jurisdictions differentiate the two.
In order to be charged with aggravated battery, as opposed to simple battery, one of the following must have occurred:
Aggravated battery and aggravated assault are similar but have some differences. The biggest difference between the two is that aggravated assault occurs when you make someone else fear violence, even if you don’t intend on causing any pain. On the other hand, aggravated battery occurs when you actually cause serious bodily harm, often with the use of a weapon.
Some states define aggravated battery within their own legal jurisdiction; such is the case for the state of Georgia. The 2019 George code describes the offense as an act that occurs when someone maliciously causes bodily harm to another person by depriving them of their body, rendering it useless, or permanent disfigurement.
Most states follow a similar definition of battery, varying by degrees and largely focusing on grievous and malicious physical damage imposed by the offender upon the victim.
Given that aggravated battery charges are primarily judged at the state level (aggravated assault being more commonly used for similar crimes tried within federal courts), punishment for aggravated varies by jurisdiction.
In Georgia, for example, the charge of aggravated battery can be considered either a misdemeanor or felony offense. Although aggravated battery might seem too serious to be a misdemeanor, especially considering disfigurement is a common result, if it is temporary, it might qualify as a misdemeanor. Still, if you are convicted of battery, you could face between a year and 20 years imprisonment, as well as potential monetary restitution. If a deadly weapon was involved, the charges are automatically classified as a felony, and if you are charged with battery against a pregnant woman or a senior citizen, the charges are escalated.
On the other hand, in Florida, aggravated battery is typically categorized as a second degree felony resulting in a penalty of up to 15 years of imprisonment (or probation) in addition to a fine of up to $10,000. If you used a firearm during the events of the crime, the punishment is escalated to include mandatory minimum sentencing. A first offense involving simple possession of a firearm during the commission of aggravated battery can result in a minimum 10 year prison sentence, and if the firearm is discharged during the crime, this minimum sentence is increased to 20 years.
If you are facing aggravated battery charges, you have some options for defense available to you. Some of the most common defenses against aggravated battery involve self-defense, defense of others or defense of property. Depending on how the details of the event unfolded, a judge or jury may consider your actions in a different light if any of these defenses are relevant.
Lack of intent is also a frequent defense strategy in aggravated battery cases. If the injury to the victim was a product of an accident without malice, charges can be reduced. Note that intent is not necessarily an element of aggravated battery in all jurisdictions, and lack of intent is therefore not always an absolute defense.
Simple innocence, relying on testimony from eyewitness accounts or a viable alibi, can be a strong defense as well if the evidence is solid and the witnesses are reliable.
If you have been accused of aggravated battery, you are being charged with a serious offense that can result in severe penalties. Aggravated battery charges are, in the majority of cases, considered serious crimes that can lead to felony charges on your criminal record.
A lawyer can help you understand your rights, discuss possible defenses for your case and walk you through the process to best defend yourself against the charges. Legal representation is necessary to ensure your rights are protected.