Can I Be Charged With Assault and Battery When I Didn't Even Hit Him?

Sometimes an argument or disagreement can quickly get out of hand and turn into a physical altercation, especially when alcohol is involved or emotions are running high. We all see the words “assault and battery” tossed around on the evening news or court procedural shows. What do these terms actually mean? What can happen if you are charged with this crime?

A battery is a willful or unlawful touching, or by an object set in motion. The type of “touching” does not matter if the victim did not consent to being touched. Shoving, punching, slapping, or even bumping into someone can all be considered an illegal battery.  An assault occurs when perpetrator takes an action intended to inflict bodily harm or when he or she takes an action intended to place the victim in fear of bodily injury. For example, a swing and a miss could still result in an assault conviction.

There are defenses to this crime. If you were not the primary aggressor and the other person struck first, you could assert a theory of self-defense or mutual combat. It also matters what type of assault and battery you are charged with and where your case is pending. 

An assault and battery against a family member will allow you different options to dispose of your case. Virginia provides a “first offender” program for first time violators: the offender will have their case continued out for two years before it is dismissed, and the offender may have to complete community service, counseling or be on probation. Non-family assault and battery cases will not have this option, but there is another tool available to get the charge dismissed. If the victim agrees, the parties can sign what is called an “accord and satisfaction”, or an agreement notating that the victim has been compensated for any damages suffered and wishes to dismiss the charge.

Besides of the impact of a criminal record if convicted of assault and battery, federal law mandates that any person convicted of a domestic violence charge (i.e, a domestic assault and battery) is prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm. This is true even if the offense was a misdemeanor and not a felony.  

If you or someone you know is facing an assault and battery charge and would like more information, please call or e-mail me at 804-320-6600 or jbaez@hmalaw.com for more information.

This post is provided as an educational service and should not be construed as legal advice.  Readers in need of assistance with a legal matter should retain the services of competent counsel.