Utah Criminal Law: Understanding the Difference Between Assault and Battery

The individual crimes of assault and battery are frequently confused or used interchangeably in conversation. Although both involve physical violence, they are not one and the same. To compound the confusion, the legal definitions of “assault” and “battery” vary from one state to the next.

In Utah, assault is defined as an illegal act of violence that injures or creates a risk of injury to another person. Attempts and threats of bodily harm are also classified as assault under state law. Depending on the circumstances, it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Examples of assault charges in Utah include:

  • Aggravated assault (results in serious bodily harm and / or involves a dangerous weapon)
  • Assault with a deadly weapon
  • Sexual assault
  • Assault with intent
  • Assault against a police officer or a military service member in uniform
  • Assault against a health care provider / emergency medical service worker

The penalties for an assault conviction can be very severe in Utah depending on the circumstances, the extent of the victim’s injuries, and whether or not the victim was a member of a protected class such as a police officer, healthcare provider, or school employee. At the very least, a person can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor and sent to jail for up to six months, but in extreme cases assault can be prosecuted as a Second Degree felony. If convicted, you could spend up to 15 years in prison and be ordered to pay a $10,000 fine.

Battery is the act of physically attacking someone else. In Utah, most crimes that would be classified as battery elsewhere are included in the assault umbrella. The exception is sexual battery, which happens if one person intentionally touches another’s genitals, buttocks, anus, or breasts with the understanding that they will likely cause alarm or affront to the victim. Sexual battery is a Class A misdemeanor and has a presumptive sentence of up to one year in jail and / or fines of up to $2,500. Anyone convicted may also have to register as a Utah Sex Offender.

If you are charged with assault or battery in Utah, you could be facing years in prison, substantial fines, and a criminal record that limits your future prospects. Don’t face it alone. Call the assault and battery defense attorneys at Arnold, Wadsworth & Coggins today. We will put our experience and knowledge to work for you and work tirelessly to produce the best possible outcome for your case.