Can you commit battery without commiting assault?

Since assault is the threat of violence and battery is the actual act of violence…say I walked up to a guy and slugged him with no warning…would I just be charged with battery since I never made a threat?

Hitting someone unexpectedly from behind, or while the victim is unconscious or asleep, are common examples of battery with no threat beforehand.

However, assault is not always defined as an explicit “threat”. Sometimes it is defined as the attempt, successful or not, to commit battery.

Now, let’s discuss Mayhem, origins, et al.

We can’t.

It’s only April.


Is it possible that things like road rage, or stalking are examples of assault? In both cases, one can implicitly threaten harm without physically contacting the potential victim.

No, stalking is not assault. There is not an implicit threat of harm.

On what grounds is a restraining order issued?

Depends on the individual restraining order, doesn’t it? In general, stalking is a form of harassment.

Beats me, if I knew about restraining orders I wouldn’t have asked the question. :wink:


In California, there are four different kinds of restraining orders, generally: domestic, civil, elder, and workplace. The grounds for each vary, but that website gives the basic outline as well as the forms. In addition, many courthouses (at least in the major metropolitan areas in California) have attorney volunteers that will help you fill out and file the forms you need to get a restraining order.

This one on harassment sort of threw me for a minute

because I couldn’t see a good reason for someone to follow you around.

But then I thought that trying to serve you with a summons in a lawsuit or collect a debt might be a good reason.

The link goes to the California courts’ self-help center, and they don’t rely on the statutory language, but instead try to present the law in simple terms. The fact that someone is following you for no good reason, and it’s merely annoying, may not be enough to get a restraining order. It really is a very fact-specific inquiry that the court goes into.

Or, as we lawyers like to say, “it depends.”

That’s also a useful engineering or scientific term.

Insurance investigators follow people around to check up on their injury claims. If someone’s injury is legitimate, the attention may be perceived as harassing, but as far as I know the insurance company can still do it.

Bolding mine.

Being from the UK I doubt this would be useful but I thought I’d throw in my knowledge anyway.

Any public disorder comes under the Public Order Act 1986 which ranges all the way from insults to riots. From my notes (and in order of least severity):

  • Under Section 5 you are guilty of Harassment, Alarm or Distress if you use words or display visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting.

  • Under Section 4A you are guilty of Intentional Harassment, Alarm or Distress if, with intent to cause distress, you use words or display visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting, that causes a person distress.

  • Under Section 4 you are guilty of Fear or Provocation of Violence if you use words or display visible representation that, with intent, causes a person to believe immediate unlawful violence will likely take place against any person.

  • Under Section 3 you are guilty of Affray if you use or threaten unlawful violence that would cause a person of reasonable firmness to fear for personal safety. (This cannot be made by words alone)

So, forgiving my long and boring entrance, let’s look at road rage. Someone shouting at you from inside their car is definitely guilty of S.5 and possibly S.4A but you would have to prove intent to cause distress. If they make clear they are talking or gesturing to you then it’s S.4A. If they get out of their car we head into S.4 territory but you need proof they intend to approach you and threaten you. Of course once they come over to you and continue we get to S.3 which obviously needs physical gestures of violence. S.2 would involve at least 3 people and unless you plan to get into a road rage situation with a bus full of people S.1 isn’t really necessary.