Assault and battery can be confusing legal terms. Because authorities often charge both at the same time, many people use the two words interchangeably, but they actually refer to two separate crimes. If you had a confrontation with someone who suffered no injury as a result, you may feel surprised at finding yourself charged with assault and/or battery. However, neither assault nor battery requires an injury to result in criminal charges.

According to the National Paralegal College, an assault is either a threatening action that puts the alleged victim in fear of imminent harm or else an attempt at physical contact that is offensive or harmful. If an injury occurs, that is a different charge, but assault does not require that an injury take place.

Battery refers to physical contact that is unlawful and unwanted. It may also be violent and result in an injury. However, it is possible to commit battery even with a nonviolent act. For example, an act of a sexual nature, such as unconsented touching or fondling, may not cause any physical injury but could still cause the alleged victim offense and therefore qualifies as a battery.

You could still face charges of battery even if you applied the contact or force indirectly rather than directly. For example, deliberately throwing an object at a person which then strikes him or her could qualify as a battery. Using an implement or tool to touch someone else without consent could also qualify.

It is also possible to commit an act of battery without intending to cause harm to the other person or through an act of negligence. Assault, however, is a different matter and requires an intention to threaten another individual through words and actions.