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There are many types of battery, ie. sexual battery, battery with serious injury, spousal battery.  For the purpose this article, only simple battery is explained.  Simple battery is the willful touching of another person in a harmful or offensive manner.  It also must be shown the touch was not for the purpose of self-defense, defense of others or for disciplining one’s child. Corporal punishment of one’s own children is still lawful within reason.  If one is reasonably disciplining one’s own child, it is not considered criminal battery.


The touching must be willful meaning it cannot be an accident; the defendant must mean to touch a victim.  The slightest touching (ie. grabbing someone’s arm) is sufficient to constitute battery.  If the defendant intends to touch one victim, but misses and touches another, the intent to do the touching is enough to constitute battery against the victim actually touched.  It does not matter whether the touching caused pain or injury or if the touching was accomplished with a tool or body part (ie. biting someone’s arm or taking a hammer to their hand is a battery). Battery is also known as a completed assault.  (See section on Assault for further explanation).


The only defense available to battery is for defense of self or others.  Unless a defendant is threatened with physical harm, or is involved with someone threatened with physical harm, there is no defense to battery.  The threat must be imminent in that a reasonable person would expect it to definitely and immediately happen.  No amount of provocative words, if words alone are being used against defendant, can justify the defendant committing a battery.


Elements, crimes and defenses vary from state to state and within the federal system.  If you or someone you know is charged with any crime, as always, you should consult a local attorney, licensed to practice in your jurisdiction and preferably one practicing only criminal law.  You can always look for your local criminal attorney at

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