Emotions tend to run high for Virginia college students, and heightened emotions can lead to a fight, especially if alcohol is a factor. If you become involved in a physical altercation, you may face battery charges. However, according to FindLaw, battery encompasses a much wider range of offenses than just physical violence.

Boiled down to its most basic definition, a battery consists of unwanted, nonconsensual physical contact with another person. A battery may be sexual in nature, such as fondling or groping another person without his or her consent. Many batteries are violent, but the court may deem an act of unwanted physical contact a battery even if it was not violent in nature. 

Though they often occur together, a battery is different from an assault. The definition of an assault is an attempt to intentionally create the fear of a battery in another person. If you were to threaten an act of battery against another person but either did not carry out the threat or made an unsuccessful attempt to carry it out, you could face charges for assault but not for battery. In other words, you may think of an assault as an incomplete battery.

Battery involves physical contact with the intention to inflict harm, physical or otherwise, on another person. It does not matter if the person that you harmed was not your intended target. For example, it is still an act of battery if you attempt to punch a person who ducks out of the way and your punch accidentally lands on someone else in the vicinity. You may still face charges of battery even though the person that you hit is not the person to whom you intended harm.

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.