assault and battery

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Assault and battery is a modern legal term which combines assault with the separate charge of battery. Assault refers to the wrong act of causing someone to reasonably fear imminent harm. This means that the fear must be something a reasonable person would foresee as threatening to them. Battery refers to the actual wrong act of physically harming someone. These are the terms as they historically have been used, but in the modern context, they can mean many different versions of causing harm. For example, the term assault in state statutes can refer to the common law assault, battery, or both simultaneously. Also, assault and battery can refer to a tort charge or a criminal charge, and the factors and definitions of the charges differ depending on the type of charge. For more information on the individual charges, see assault here and battery here.

[Last updated in November of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]