The Differences between the Two Crimes | Common Defenses
It’s fairly common to hear the term “assault and battery” and assume that it’s a single crime. In New Jersey, as in most states, that’s not accurate. Assault is a separate crime distinguishable from battery, although you can be charged with both for the same incident. In fact, in almost all cases of battery, there is also some degree of assault.
What Is Assault?
In New Jersey, you can be charged with assault without making any physical contact with another person. To constitute assault, your actions must merely put another person in reasonable fear or imminent apprehension of an immediate battery. For example, if you raise your fist with the threat to hit someone, or intentionally drive your car at another person, you can be charged with assault.
What is Battery?
In essence, a battery is a completed assault. A battery requires a touching of some kind. The touching must be non-consensual, and it must be something that a reasonable person would find offensive. A slap, kick, punch or shove qualifies as a touching sufficient to lead to a charge of battery, but so can a kiss or even a hug. The perpetrator does not, however, need to actually touch the victim. For example, if you strike a person with a thrown object, that can be battery.
Common Defenses to Charges of Assault and/or Battery
The law recognizes a number of viable defenses to allegations of assault and battery:
- Self-defense—You may commit an assault and battery if you reasonably believed you were in danger of serious injury or death
- Defense of others—You can also commit an assault and/or battery to prevent injury to another person, but the perceived threat must be real and reasonable
- Consent—If you can show that the victim voluntarily consented to the touching, it’s a valid defense
- Defense of property—This defense is far more limited, only available when someone enters your home without permission.
Contact Attorney Gregg A. Wisotsky—Partner at Javerbaum, Wurgaft Hicks Kahn Wikstrom & Sinins, PC
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