In Georgia, if you physically hurt someone, or put them in a position where they have a genuine fear that you will hurt them, you can face one of the above charges. They all have the potential for misdemeanor or felony charges depending on the seriousness of the offense, which can mean both fines and jail time.
What you may not know is the difference between each offense. Here are how these charges work:
A simple assault is usually treated as a misdemeanor offense. It is considered to be an attempt to place another in fear of immediate harm, usually via a credible threat — but without physical contact.
For a battery, there must be actual unwanted physical contact between the victim and the person responsible. It’s considered to be an intentional crime, meaning. there is no way it could be done accidentally. Assault and battery often go together, especially if someone says, “I’m going to punch your lights out!” and then proceeds to throw the punch.
Simple assault and battery are often treated as misdemeanors with a fine of up to $1,000 and/or 12 months in jail.
Aggravated assault or battery
An assault (or battery) charge becomes aggravated when there are other factors involved that make the crime more severe. For example, there may have been a deadly weapon involved, the person’s intentions were to cause serious injury or death and the victim may have been elderly, pregnant or otherwise vulnerable.
Aggravated assault and aggravated battery are usually treated as felony offenses and the range of penalties varies depending on the seriousness of both the offense and the injuries sustained. It can mean up to 20 years in prison and substantial fines.
Being charged with one of the above offenses can hold serious consequences. For most people, there will often be a strong defense to put forward or mitigation to reduce the seriousness of the charge. Seeking legal assistance as early as possible offers the best chance at fighting the charges against you.