Assault and assault and battery are both examples of violent crimes, but they are two distinct and separate offenses in the eyes of the law. Those with little or no experience in the legal system often confuse the two crimes. However, if you are facing either of these charges, it is critical to know the differences between them. This ensures that you take the proper steps to mount a solid defense.

A criminal defense attorney can explain the characteristics of the charges you face and aid you in choosing the right strategy for your defense. In the meantime, you can learn more about both of these violent crimes–and the consequences upon conviction–in the following sections.

Assault definition: In Massachusetts, assault means using or trying to use physical force (violence) against another person. Displaying the intent to use force or violence against a person may also lead to assault charges even if the other person suffered no harm.

Assault and battery definition: The “battery” element of this charge means that the defendant deliberately used violence against another person without consent. Courts will also take into account whether the assault and battery will likely lead to injury. The key difference between this and simple assault is that you have to make contact with the victim to be charged with battery.

Although these violent crimes are not the same, the consequences are similar. Upon conviction for either charge, defendants can face up to two and a half years behind bars as well as an expensive fine. If the alleged assault causes severe injuries or if the victim is pregnant, the consequences are even more serious.

It is wise to take any legal allegations seriously, especially when accused of committing violent crimes. A good course of action is to take your case to a lawyer as soon as possible so that you will have time to build a good defense.