You were angry and lost your temper. You overreacted to something and started to shout. You got so upset that you even poked your finger at the chest of the other party and made a few threats.

Just the same, you certainly didn’t expect to find yourself in handcuffs facing charges of assault and battery. After all, nobody got hurt, right? You didn’t really intend to hurt anyone.

Unfortunately, that’s not how the law may see it. Most people don’t realize that assault and battery have fairly broad definitions. You can be guilty of assault for any actions that put a reasonable person in fear about their safety. While yelling at someone might not be enough to do it, promising that you’re going to punch them or break their arm while standing within striking distance could easily be termed an assault.

Battery involves actually touching someone in a harmful or offensive fashion without their consent. Naturally, it’s a charge that is often coupled with the charge of assault. Poking your finger in someone’s chest could certainly be defined as a battery, even if you never intended to physically harm them. So could things like shoving someone while making your threats or actually taking a swing at them with your fist — even if you didn’t connect.

When you’re stressed out or upset, it can be very easy to lose your cool. You may find yourself suddenly reacting to events in a way that is profoundly out-of-character. If you end up charged with assault or assault and battery, don’t try to handle the situation on your own. An experienced defense attorney can help.