While often paired together as one offense, assault and battery are two different terms. The reason behind this is that when a person commits battery, there is usually an intention to harm and threaten another person before committing the physical act. Assault/battery usually involves the following elements: 1) there is an attempt to physically strike another person 2) acting in a threatening manner to sow fear of immediate harm to another person.

Charleston personal injury lawyers at the Clawson and Staubes, LLC: Injury Group will tell you that assault and battery is a criminal offense. Originally, assault and battery were separate crimes. The former refers to the threat of bodily harm while the latter is the actual contact on another person. Battery is often defined as “completed assault.” If there is no actual contact, the crime is simply assault. If an action involves pain, harm, and violence, the offense is battery.

While contact is usually not a requirement for assault, getting convicted may still require a criminal “act.” While there are different categories of assault, there should be an overt or direct act that would result to fear in a person. However, words are not enough to convict a person of assault. For the person to be charged, there has to be actual harm. Assault requires general intent in order for that person to be convicted.

Battery, on the other hand, refers to the intentional offensive or harmful touching of another person without their consent. For a person to be convicted, battery requires the following elements:

  • Intentional touching

  • The touching must be harmful or offensive

  • There was no consent from the victim


While assault involves threats to harm, battery requires an offensive or harmful contact. Such acts may include minimal contact or punches and kicks. The victim does not need to be injured or harmed for the defendant to be charged with battery. The important element is the offensive contact. In some jurisdictions, assault and battery are combined into one offense.