Although the issues of both assault and battery tend to be interlinked in lay terms, the two are actually distinct but closely related actions. Because the two types of offenses are so closely linked, there are states that combine them into a single offense category. Illinois residents should understand that both offenses involve actions that are offensive and that are usually intentional as well as harmful.
An assault charge does not require contact, but it does require an offensive and intentional act. An individual cannot accidentally commit an assault against another party. The intent can be general as an offender does something that can be construed as endangering another person. A specific harm does not need to be defined for an offender’s behavior to constitute assault. Scaring another person is sufficient behavior in some assault cases.
Battery requires purposeful contact that is offensive or harmful. Additionally, this action occurs without the approval of the individual being touched. Although bumping into another person might cause harm or offense, the unintentional nature of the incident would disqualify it as an act of battery. An injury is not necessarily required for battery to be proven. Spitting is an example of battery without injury.
While assault and battery are typically misdemeanor charges in Illinois, there are cases in which felony charges could be filed instead. Additionally, sentencing enhancement laws could come into play for repeat offenders. There are situations in which officials might be willing to allow for probation rather than requiring incarceration for some offenders, but this is not an option in a felony case.
People who are facing these types of criminal charges might work with their attorney to seek leniency based on a personal record of good behavior in the past. An attorney might gather statements from character witnesses to support such a request.