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Assault and Battery: The Differences in Nevada

In late September 2013, Reno police arrested a man for shooting a woman in the arm at the Overland Hotel. He was charged with assault with a deadly weapon and battery, among other offenses.

Assault and battery are two offences that seem to always go together, but they mean two different things:

  • Assault: You commit assault in Nevada if you intentionally make someone feel that you’re about to harm them ― the state must prove that you actually intended to commit the act of assault and that the victim was aware of it.
  • Battery: Battery is when you physically harm another person ― the state must prove that you actually intended to commit the act of battery by unlawfully using force against another person.


There are several defenses to charges of both assault and battery:

  • Lack of intent: If someone walks in front of you at a golf driving range and is hit by your ball, you are not guilty of assault or battery because you had no intention of harming that person.
  • Self-defense: If you are walking down the street and a stranger starts to punch you, you are permitted to respond physically in self-defense.
  • Consent: Players engaged in a contact sport such as football are deemed to have consented to the force usually associated with being tackled.


Assault and battery are both misdemeanors if there was no significant harm and no weapons were involved. However, the penalties become serious under the following circumstances:

  • You used a weapon
  • You caused serious injury
  • You attacked or threatened a member of a protected class (for example, doctors and public employees such as police officers and teachers)

Because of the potential seriousness of the penalties for assault and battery, you should consult with an experienced Reno criminal defense attorney.

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