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The Meaning of Assault and Battery

Definitions Of Assault And Battery

Prosecutions of assault/battery charges will depend, in various areas, on the dominant definitions in place within their legal systems for understanding when these offenses have taken place. The assault definition in place in the legal systems of the United Kingdom and India refers specifically to a perception experienced by an individual that he or she was being targeted for a form of unwanted or harmful physical contact through the actions, consciously willed or carelessly implemented, of another individual.

The American assault definition which is commonly used in law courts, on the other hand, refers specifically to the proposed threat of violence or offensive touching being made. The intention of the individual being prosecuted and the perception of the individual pressing charges hold less significance than the demonstration that the content and context for the threats reasonably established that they could have led to an instance of battery.

The word "fear" may be used in the assault definition being used for a system of law, but in reference to an individual's reasonable inference of the imminence of violent or otherwise undesirable physical contact, not to a specific emotional state. This provision allows the assault definition to adequately describe cases in which the individual being threatened might reasonably have been assumed to have enjoyed some material advantage over the person making the threat.

One distinction that can be made in assault definition terms is between instances that merely involved some kind of threat and cases of aggravated assault, which involve kinds of threats, such as deadly weapons, that are considered more serious than others.

Despite the widespread association of assault/battery charges with physical violence aimed at or causing actual harm, the governing battery and assault definition of common law legal systems such as the United States will often cover physical contact that is merely adjudged unwanted and offensive as opposed to actually violent.

The degree to which consent was granted by the individual affected by the disruptive action to the individual who performed it may also govern the ability to determine that a case of assault/battery has occurred. Though the battery and assault definition of various systems of law commonly recognizes exceptional cases in which the threat or application of physical force might be warranted, such as the performance of law enforcement duties or participation in rough athletic contests.

The definition of assault and battery may also make allowances for the application of physical force without the affected individual's consent but for purposes of discipline as are considered reasonable by the courts, as in instances of corporal punishment of children by their parents or the use of force in a mental institution. If such actions occur within the limits defined as reasonable under that area's law, they will not be prosecuted as assault/battery.

The United Kingdom and countries such as the United States heavily influenced by its legal culture tend to exclude instances of reasonably applied parental discipline from the legal understanding of assault/battery.

NEXT: What Happens During the Assault Charges Process?

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