July 2017

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What is assault and battery?


You more than likely have heard the words “assault” and “battery” used in conjunction with each other, but what distinguishes assault and battery from assault or battery on their own? There are important distinctions to be made between the two, but the differences aren’t especially complicated. This is an overview of what makes a crime qualify as both assault and battery.


In the simplest terms, if assault and battery occurs against an individual, the assault will almost always occur before the act of battery. That’s because assault is all about threatening. When someone commits assault, they aren’t necessarily committing a physical act against another person. However, they are giving a reason for the other person to believe they are in danger. The act of assault could be someone telling another person that they are going to harm or kill them, or they could tell that other person something unsettling to intentionally intimidate them.

Types of Assault

There are two types of assault: simple and aggravated.

  • With simple assault, no weapon is used.
  • With aggravated assault, a weapon is used. According to the FBI, there were over 750,000 cases in the U.S. of aggravated assault in 2011 alone.


While the definition of assault is a bit looser, for someone to be charged with battery, they had to have made physical contact with their victim. This can range in severity, but any unwanted or harmful physical contact towards another person can be classified as battery.

  • Unlike assault, however, battery can be committed even if the perpetrator had no intention of causing harm.
  • If their intention was to come in contact with the other person and doing so resulted in bodily harm, then the victim has grounds to claim the perpetrator committed battery against them.

Types of Battery

Like assault, the two types of battery are simple and aggravated.

  • Simple battery is less serious.
  • Aggravated battery involves use of a weapon and can also warrant the label through intent like a racially motivated attack.

Assault and Battery

Now that we’ve explained how both assault and battery are individually classified, it’s time to bring them together and understand how they work in conjunction. The reason why you hear “assault and battery” together so often is because people who make threats of physical harm (assault) are prone to follow up on their promises (battery).

Criminal Charges

The criminal charges for assault and battery depend upon the types of assault and battery as well as the state in which they occurred. Simple assault is generally classified as a misdemeanor, but aggravated assault typically falls under the felony category. The punishment can range from a few months to many years in prison, depending on the severity:

  • Was a deadly weapon employed?
  • How severe were the injuries?

Call Us

If you have been a victim of assault and/or battery, or you have been charged with either of these crimes, give our office a call today. A skilled criminal defense lawyer you rely on will do everything in their power to help you get the compensation that you deserve.

Should I Include a Personal Injury Award In a Prenuptial Agreement?

Decatur Attorney

Prenuptial agreements — also called premarital agreements and antenuptial agreements, and prenups for short — are agreements that people intending to get married make that will be effective when they marry. They are enforceable like contracts in the courts.  Your state may have specific written requirements about them — in my state (New Mexico), we have the “Uniform Premarital Agreement” Act which was passed in 1995 — and then those written requirements are interpreted by judges if the spouses later disagree about what they meant in their agreement. It’s important to know what is specific about prenups in your state, in statute and court opinions!  This article talks generally to give you some things to check out with your local attorney, like a divorce lawyer Santa Fe, NM trusts.

Mostly, usually, prenups are about what will happen with the spouses’ assets and debts (what they already have and owe), and income and expenses (what comes in and must be paid out on a daily basis), during a marriage. They also usually consider assets and debts that might happen in the future, and increasingly are an important tool used as part of estate planning for the spouses to know very clearly how assets will be distributed when they die — used by older couples perhaps remarrying after earlier marriages with children.  You have to know the purpose of the prenup: prenups requested by the younger may be made in anticipation of divorce; prenups requested by the older may be made in anticipation of how clarifying how much of the assets will pass to a surviving spouse and how much to the deceased’s children (who are not the surviving spouse’s children) on their death.

Mostly, anything the prospective spouses agree to will be considered within their legal rights to do, so long as they were aware of what they were doing and not under duress.  There are at least 2 very  major exceptions to that possible depending on your state’s law. In my state, for example, agreements must not go against “public policy”, and, further, the agreement “may not adversely affect the right of a child or spouse to support, a party’s right to child custody or visitation, a party’s choice of abode or a party’s freedom to pursue career opportunities.”

Where does a personal injury award come into this? Most prenups declare what property (assets) of each is “separate” — usually, the property owned by each at the time of marriage remains separate — and which is marital or community — usually the property that comes to either of them after the time of the marriage, during the marriage. But sometimes the spouses might want to keep separate some of the property that comes into the marriage, that might otherwise become marital, which can be done by a prenup.

What about that personal injury award?  If you were anticipating a possible divorce, you might want to be sure that award was characterized as separate property — remember that the award is compensation, in part, for treatment you might need years later, and if you are divorced you might not have as much financial support for needed treatments as when you were married.  If you were anticipating wanting to help both a surviving spouse and your children, and if you felt a child from an earlier marriage was not well enough provided for, you might also want your spouse’s up front agreement that such unplanned-for money would go to your children when you died.

Gini Nelson Law OfficeThanks to our friends and contributors from Gini Nelson Law Office for their insight into personal injury awards and prenuptial agreements.