What Is the Difference Between Assault and Battery?

In many states, assault and battery are separate criminal charges. Tennessee law used to have different definitions for assault and battery. In simple terms, you had to physically injure another person to commit battery but could be charged with assault for threatening to hurt someone.

However, the legal definition of assault in Tennessee includes physical injury as well as threats. If you’ve been charged with assault, aggravated assault, or related charges, it’s critical to speak to an experienced Nashville criminal defense lawyer right away.

An attorney can review the details of your case, determine the appropriate defense strategies, and fight to get the charges reduced or dropped. With legal counsel on your side, you have the best chance of avoiding conviction.

Assault and Battery in Tennessee

While Tennessee once separated assault and battery as separate crimes, today both fall under the definition of assault. Tennessee Code § 39-13-101 defines simple assault as:

  1. Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury to another person;
  2. Intentionally or knowingly causing another to reasonably fear imminent bodily injury; or,
  3. Intentionally or knowingly causing physical contact with another and a reasonable person would regard the contact as extremely offensive or provocative.

Are There Different Types of Assault?

The are various types and degrees of assault. The following are some of the most common.

Simple Assault

Simple assault is the standard charge we’ve explained above. Common examples include punching or slapping someone, physical fights without the use of weapons, and threatening to injure someone.

Simple assault is usually charged as a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in prison and fines of up to $2,500. Simple assault based on “offensive or provocative” physical contact is a Class B misdemeanor.

Aggravated Assault

Aggravated assault happens when someone commits an assault with one or more aggravating factors. These are:

  1. The assault results in serious bodily injury.
  2. The assault results in death.
  3. The defendant uses or displays a deadly weapon.
  4. The assault involves strangulation or attempted strangulation.

Tennessee law does not distinguish battery from assault

This crime is usually charged as a Class C felony punishable by 3-15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. If someone is convicted of “recklessly” committing assault involving any of 1-3, it is a class D felony and carries a sentence of 2-12 years and/or a fine of up to $5,000.

Domestic Assault

Domestic assault is when the offender has a domestic relationship with the victim. In most cases, the defendant and victim are married or dating. However, the definition of domestic abuse victims in Tennessee can include ex-spouses, current or former in-laws, and roommates.

Without aggravating factors, a first-time domestic assault conviction is typically a Class A misdemeanor (up to 1 year in jail and $2,500 in fines) or a Class B misdemeanor (up to 6 months in jail and $500 in fines).

However, if the domestic assault is classified as aggravated assault, the defendant is likely to face felony charges and substantially more severe consequences, such as up to 15 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.

Reach Out To An Experienced Nashville Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you’ve been charged with assault or any other crime, it’s critical to speak with an experienced Nashville criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. At Byron Pugh Legal, we understand this is an incredibly stressful situation and aim to provide compassionate and effective legal counsel for every client.

Every person deserves a fair legal defense and the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. We provide compassionate and dedicated legal counsel for those facing criminal charges in Nashville and Middle Tennessee.

Contact Byron Pugh Legal today at 615-255-9595 for a free initial consultation. Together, we will evaluate your situation, determine the best strategy, and fight to protect your rights and freedom.