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What’s the difference between assault and battery?

On Behalf of | Sep 28, 2022 | Criminal Defense |

People are complicated creatures, and a simple disagreement with a neighbor or another patron in a bar can suddenly erupt into a full-blown argument – or a fight.

Often, one or both parties involved can end up being charged with assault or battery (or both) after an altercation. While these two terms are often used interchangeably, there’s actually a significant legal difference.

How does Oklahoma law define them?

Under Oklahoma law, an assault is a threat to physically harm another person in some way without any actual physical contact, while a battery is some type of action that involves unlawful force or violence that actually involves touching the other party.

Because these two situations are often closely connected, the two charges are often seen together. For example, if you announce that you’re going to give some guy at the bar a “knuckle sandwich” and raise your fist in a threatening manner, that’s assault. If you follow through with a swing, that’s battery.

What kinds of defenses are available?

Generally speaking, the specifics of the situation will inform your defense. However, defenses often center around the following:

  • The reasonableness of the charge: A threat has to be credible to be considered an assault. If, for example, you hold up a banana and jokingly threaten to shoot someone with it, that’s hardly going to carry the same weight as pointing a gun at them.
  • The intention behind the act: Battery, for example, requires a willful action. If you accidentally knocked someone over as you were trying to get out of the middle of a fight that broke out, that’s hardly an intentional act.
  • The right to self-defense or defense of others: You have a right to defend yourself, your family and other people from physical harm. If you stepped in and threw a punch because your best friend was getting pummeled, you may have a valid defense.

If you’re facing assault and battery charges, find out more about the possible defenses for your case.