Understanding Assault & Battery: Criminal vs. Civil Cases

upset man and woman on couch

The basic structure of a police procedural episode is simple: an incident occurs, the police investigate, the mystery is seemingly solved, and the defendant is slapped with an assault and battery charge right before the credits roll. Real life isn’t so cut and dry, and there are countless legal nuances that must be considered if you’re charged with assault and battery. For example, many defendants who are charged with assault and battery don’t even realize that they may be facing two different court cases.

Defining Assault & Battery

Despite popular misconceptions, “assault” and “battery” are not the same offense. Legally, assault is the intentional threat of violence against another person. Even if a physical attack doesn’t take place, an alleged offender can still be charged with assault so long as the victim reasonably feared for their safety. However, an alleged offender can only be charged with battery if the intended threat is carried out.

A battery offense requires the following:

  • The victim was physically touched
  • The contact was harmful or offensive
  • The victim did not give consent

Criminal Assault & Battery

Criminal cases are prosecuted by the state for the purpose of safeguarding public welfare. In Virginia, assault and battery is considered a Class 1 Misdemeanor which can lead to jail time and a $2,500 fine.  If you’re charged and arrested in Virginia, it’s imperative that you seek legal representation if you want to keep a conviction off your criminal record.

Civil Assault & Battery

Even if a convicted offender pays their dues and serves their time, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re off the hook. Per the statute of limitations for assault and battery, a plaintiff has 2 years to file a civil lawsuit against a defendant. The defendant doesn’t have to fear jail time, but they may have to pay compensation that accounts for the plaintiff’s medical expenses, lost wages, and any punitive damages as determined by the court. However, once the statute of limitations passes, the defendant can legally request that the case be dismissed.

Learn More by Scheduling a Consultation

If you’re charged and arrested for a crime, it’s imperative that you have a thorough understanding of your legal rights. Without experienced legal guidance, you may find yourself facing the financial penalties of a criminal conviction and a civil lawsuit. Our lawyer can investigate your assault and battery case and litigate in court on your behalf. Our firm has provided criminal defense representation for 25 years.

Contact The Law Office of Daniel J. Miller at (757) 267-4949 to schedule a consultation.