What is the difference between assault and battery?

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Assault and battery are examples of violent offenses, or crimes against the person. Because they often occur together, many people mistakenly think that they are the same thing, using the two terms interchangeably.

To add further confusion, some jurisdictions combine the charges of assault and battery, so that they are the same thing. Nevertheless, the City Code of Phoenix defines them as separate charges.


Battery is the use of violence against another person in a way that is against the law. It has to be an intentional act to inflict violence against another person. The City Code describes instances in which an act of violence does not amount to battery, such as when acting in defense of oneself or another person or preventing an unlawful intrusion onto someone else’s property.

A person can commit a battery by wielding a weapon against another person, and a deadly weapon may result in a more serious charge. However, it is also possible for a person to commit battery using only parts of his or her body, such as hands or feet.


An assault is an unlawful attempt or threat to inflict a violent injury upon another person by someone who has the apparent ability to carry it out. If the attempt is successful, a person can face charges of both assault and battery.

Even if the attempt fails to inflict a violent injury fails, a person can still face assault charges without charges of battery. This is why the two charges are separate under the Phoenix City Code.


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