What is the Difference Between Assault and Battery?


Under Illinois law, assault and battery are separate crimes. Assault is generally when one causes someone to fear receiving a battery. A person commits an assault when, without lawful authority, he engages in conduct which places another in reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery. This means that if you do something to cause another to have a reasonable fear that you would cause bodily harm to them, or cause an insulting or provoking physical contact with them, then you have committed the crime of assault. The crime of assault is punishable as a class C misdemeanor. This means that if the person is found guilty, they may be sentenced to jail for up to 30 days and be required to pay a fine of up to$ 2,500. In Illinois however, we even have different levels of assault and as a result, you can be punished differently depending upon the circumstances surrounding the offense. For instance, an assault upon certain types of people or in protected areas increase the offense from general assault to aggravated assault, which brings with it a more severe punishment. A few common situations that may cause an assault to be increased to aggravated assault would be if the person committing the assault:

1. Uses a deadly weapon;

2. Is hooded, robed or masked in such a manner as to conceal his/her identity;

3. Commits the assault on the grounds of the school and knows the individual assaulted to be a teacher or other person employed by the school;

4. Knows the individual assaulted is on or about a public way, public property or public place of accommodation or amusement;

5. Commits the assault on a publicly or privately owned sports or entertainment arena, stadium, community or convention hall, special event center, or facility;

6. Discharges a firearm from a motor vehicle;

7. Does so against:

a. An employee of the State of Illinois;

b. A physically handicapped person; or

c. A person 60 years of age or older.


Battery, on the other hand, is when a person intentionally or knowingly and without legal justification causes bodily harm to another person, or makes an insulting or provoking physical contact with a person. The key point here is that there is contact between the victim and the defendant. Without the contact there cannot be a battery. Contact, however, does not necessarily mean that the defendant’s body must come in contact with the victim. If the Defendant were to cause an object such as a bat, stick, spit, etc…, to come in contact with the victim in an insulting or provoking way, or in a way that causes bodily harm, then that person may be charged with a battery. Battery is generally charged as a Class A Misdemeanor, however, just like assault, there are circumstances that raise a battery to aggravated battery. Aggravated battery is a battery committed under the same particular circumstances as aggravated assault mentioned above. Other laws also make battery of particular people, such as family members, criminal acts of an aggravated nature. These laws include domestic battery, battery or aggravated battery of an unborn child, aggravated battery of a child or institutionalized mentally retarded person, and aggravated battery of a senior citizen. There is also a statute that makes transmission of HIV a crime assuming the person knows he or she is infected with HIV and contaminates another person through sexual contact, donation of blood or other body fluids, or sells or shares drug paraphernalia.