Does Assault and Battery Constitute a Felony?

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Several factors determine whether or not an assault case falls under the category of misdemeanor or felony. The information below should be taken under consideration when attempting to determine how an assault case will be viewed by the court. It is advised to seek the counsel of an experienced criminal defense attorney if you find yourself involved in an assault and battery case.

Separate Terms: Battery and Assault

The legal definition of assault will vary state by state. However, it is typically considered to be any explicit threat to a person’s well being using physical violence or an attempt to physically injure a person..The FBI claims that assault is present when any direct or explicit act would be deemed a danger or threat to someone’s safety by a reasonable person.

Usually, verbal threats unaccompanied by physical actions are not considered a significant danger and therefore wouldn’t constitute assault. However, when those words are presented with actions that could reasonably be interpreted as a threat to pose bodily harm, an assault charge may be claimed. The physical actions needed to claim assault are not limited to physical contact with the victim. The assailant may be charged with assault without touching the victim. However, where offensive or illegal contact is made with the victim, battery is considered to be the appropriate charge.

Is it a Felony or Misdemeanor?

For the most part, the determining factor to consider is the extent of the assault and battery. The greater the severity of the incident the greater the punishment. If the defendant is convicted and sentenced to prison, the time sentenced is attributed to whether or not the severity constitutes the misdemeanor or felony charge.

It should be noted that there are differences between assault and aggravated assault. When the assault charge is considered to be an aggravated charge, it implies there was a deadly weapon involved or the injury sustained by the victim was severe.  

Assault is usually considered to be a misdemeanor when part of a domestic incident. But that isn’t always the case. Suppose the victim is elderly or disabled, the domestic assault charge may fall under the felony category. However, the charges could be more severe than a felony assault and battery; if the victim was a pregnant woman, the assault could be deemed aggravated assault which face even greater punishment.

The Involvement of a Dangerous Weapon

The term weapon includes a myriad of dangerous objects, not limited to firearms. The type of weapon can impact the severity of charges against the defendant. For example, a foot is typically not considered to be a weapon, however, if the foot was utilized in fashion similar to a deadly weapon it may be deemed a weapon by the court. A weapon being utilized in the attack provides grounds for an aggravated assault and battery charge.

Plea Agreements and Dismissals

A criminal defense attorney such as the lawyer Bangor ME locals trust may be able to reduce an assault charge by negotiating a plea agreement. Or, in instances lacking evidence the court may even dismiss the charge completely.


Thanks to Authors at David Bate Law Office for their insight into Criminal Defense Litigation.