Assault and battery are known as Intentional Torts, which means the assault (Or ‘Act’) was committed by one person (Or ‘Party’) and caused harm to someone else. When intentional torts occur a civil lawsuit may take place in which the injured party makes a demand for monetary compensation for the damages they received. However, in every part of the United States, assault and battery are also considered to be crimes which means that the individual who caused harm can face prosecution. If found guilty, the defendant could go to jail. The fact that assault and battery are both civil and criminal cases can lead to some confusion, but here is where we hope to make things a little more understandable.
The Definition of Assault and Battery
Each state has a different statute that tends to vary in the way that criminal conducts are defined. Although assault and battery in criminal and civil cases share a similar definition they both agree that assault and battery are criminal acts.
Assault, in both civil and criminal terms, refers to the threat of or the action of bodily harm.
Battery, in both civil and criminal terms, refers to a complete assault, which refers to an action that began as an assault and resulted in physical touching.
For example, if someone raises their fist and you believe that they are about to hit you, they have committed assault because you imminently believe you are about to be punched. This means that even if you have not been punched, it is believed that you have been assaulted because you were threatened with a punch. If the individual decides to follow through with their threats and touch you/connect with your body, they have battered you. There is a lot of misunderstanding with assault and battery, and many people believe that they are one and the same.
Assault and Battery (Civil Cases)
Assault and battery in terms of civil cases are known as ‘Torts’. As we have already seen Intentional Torts refer to the assault (Or ‘Act’) that was committed by one person or party and caused harm to someone else. The majority of torts arise from a reckless or careless act. Some torts do take into account the intent of the individual committing the act (Also known as the ‘Tortfeasor’). If the Tortfeasor was supposed to act in a non-negligent way, and they breached the act and caused harm, they will have committed a tort.
Intentional torts are those which have been committed purposefully. If a plaintiff (The injured person) cannot prove that the act was intentional then the court may consider that the act was a form of negligence rather than an intentional tort.
For example, let’s imagine that you are watching a baseball game, and at the end of the game, a spectator comes running in your direction, holding a baseball bat. The spectator appears to slip and they hit you with the baseball bat. If the spectator deliberately hit you with the bat you could say that they committed civil battery. However, if the spectator who was the owner of the field slipped because they failed to remove the snow that had fallen, they could be found to have acted in a negligent manner if it was his duty to behave in a non-negligent way (The non-negligent way being the clearing up of the snow). In breaching his duty and thereby hitting you with the bat the owner of the field caused you harm. Please note this is just an example of a civil case of assault and battery, and every case is different and may be a lot more complicated.
Assault and Battery (Criminal Cases)
A criminal case of assault and battery occurs when someone violates a statute that punishes and prohibits some types of conduct. Prosecuted by the state, criminal cases are done so in the interest of protecting the welfare of the public. A judge or a jury must agree that the crime was committed by the defendant, and they must do this beyond reasonable doubt. If the defendant is found guilty, they may be incarcerated.
Every state in the U.S has criminal statutes that pertain to assault and battery. The prosecution of a criminal case can differ from a civil case in a few ways:
1. The court needs to prove that a violation of a specific criminal statute has taken place.
2. The burden of proof is a lot stricter in a case such as this, as opposed to a civil case.
When we refer back to the case of the owner of the baseball field, we can suggest that they may be charged with assault and battery if it was found that they intended to hit you, and there were laws that prohibited this behavior.
If the owner of the baseball field was found not guilty of assault, it does not mean that you, the plaintiff, cannot file a civil lawsuit. Civil lawsuits typically involve paying monetary damages to the plaintiff. Please note that in civil lawsuits double jeopardy rules don’t apply, this means that a person can be tried more than once for the same action.
In the event of an individual being found not guilty in a criminal case, they may still be taken to court as there is a chance they may be found civilly liable. If found civilly liable the owner of the baseball field for example, may be forced to pay damages to you, the plaintiff.
In every part of the United States, assault and battery are considered to be crimes, which means that the individual who caused harm can face prosecution. This means if found guilty they could go to jail. The fact that assault and battery are both civil and criminal cases can lead to some confusion, but here is where we hope we have made things a little more understandable. Please bookmark this page if you think you may need to refer back to it at a later date.
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