How are assault and battery different?

On Behalf of | Mar 4, 2021 | Criminal Defense

It is likely that you have heard the phrase “assault and battery” mentioned by police on television when they are arresting a suspect on your favorite crime show. However, many people are unaware of what the difference between assault and battery actually is.


Interestingly enough, this is a distinction that depends on the state. In many states, assault and battery are two separate charges. This is not the case of Minnesota. According to FindLaw, the assault laws in Minnesota cover both assault and battery.

What is the difference between the two charges in other states?

The best way to think about how assault and battery can be different is that assault is often defined as an attempt at battery. In states that have differences between assault and battery, assault actually does not require any physical contact between the victim and perpetrator.

On the other hand, battery does require contact. However, in many cases battery takes different forms: for example, spitting on somebody is a form of battery in the same way that punching somebody is.

How are things different in Minnesota?

In Minnesota, both assault and battery fall under assault. In Minnesota, the most common variety of assault is simple assault. This is a misdemeanor that occurs when a perpetrator inflicts intentional or attempted injury on a victim. In simple assault, the perpetrator commits these actions with the intent to cause fear of injury or death. Simple assault has five different degrees of severity.

Additionally, committing assault against certain individuals comes with enhanced penalties in Minnesota. These may include but are not limited to school officials, postal workers, peace officers and crime prevention group members.