We’ve talked pretty extensively about assault, which is a charge you can face for merely threatening someone with physical harm.
When a threat turns into actual physical contact with another person, however, that’s no longer assault. Instead, you may be charged with battery.
What’s the difference between simple battery and aggravated battery?
Essentially, simple battery is a lesser charge and generally reflects a less grievous offense than aggravated battery.
Under the law, battery involves knowingly, intentionally and without legal justification causing another person some kind of bodily harm. However, even touching someone in an insulting or “provoking” way is also enough to be charged with a simple battery.
That means, for example, if you poke your neighbor in the chest with your finger while issuing an ultimatum or knock their hat off their head in a challenge, you can be charged with simple battery — even if the situation went no further.
Aggravated battery is the usual charge whenever the victim suffers serious bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement in your confrontation. Aggravated battery may also be charged when:
- Chemicals, caustic substances, deadly biological agents, explosives or something similar are used in an attack
- The other party is a police officer, fireman, security officer, correctional employee or holds certain other positions of public trust and authority, including teachers and school officials
- Strangulation is used in the attack
- The victim is over 60, under 13 or has an intellectual disability
- The victim is given drugs or poison via force or deception
- You use a weapon in the process of the attack without discharging it
- You are hooded, robed or otherwise masked to conceal your identity
- You flash a laser site from a rifle or other firearm onto the other party’s body
- You record video or audio of the attack with the intention of disseminating it
Simple battery alone is a Class A misdemeanor, which means that you could face up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine. If the charge is upgraded to aggravated battery, you could be facing a range of felony charges. At minimum, you may be looking at two-to-five in prison. At maximum, you could face up to 60 years behind bars.
If you’re charged with kind of battery charge, it’s wise to get experienced legal help right away.