What is the Difference Between Assault and Battery in Utah?

The term “assault and battery” is often used as a catch-all to describe violently beating someone up. People often use “assault and battery” in a criminal context, but not many people know that “assault” and “battery” encompass both criminal conduct and civil liability. Let it be made clear, though, that all varieties of assault are serious crimes, and an accusation of any of them should not be taken lightly.

Assault charges in Utah run a wide range of crimes with a wide range of penalties. Some are misdemeanors, while others are felonies. Moreover, there are certain circumstances, such as using a weapon, that can turn a crime like simple assault into something more serious, like aggravated assault. Battery, on the other hand, is a “tort,” or wrongdoing that you can be accused of in civil court. It is entirely possible that you could be accused of assault in criminal court and then also face a battery accusation in a civil case. Additionally, there is a separate tort of assault that you can also be sued for in civil court alongside battery.

To get a free, 100% confidential review of the charges against you, call Overson Law’s Salt Lake City assault defense lawyers at (801) 758-2287.

Civil Assault and Battery vs Criminal Assault in Utah

Not only is assault a crime, but it can also be a civil claim against you. Moreover, “battery” is an intentional tort – or wrongdoing – where someone engages in harmful or offensive touching that the victim did not consent to. Battery is also a tort that you can be accused of in a civil case. In a civil context, “assault” is threatening someone with bodily injury and making them fear that such injury is going to happen shortly.

Civil trials take a secondary priority to criminal proceedings, so any criminal trial involving assault will happen before a civil trial for assault, battery, or both. Being found guilty of assault in a criminal case can cause serious issues for a civil case, as the conviction for the relevant crime can be used as evidence. Accordingly, it is crucial to use our assault defense attorneys on your side to fight these charges.

Assault Crimes in Utah

Utah Code § 76-5-102 denotes all of the assault-related offenses in Utah. There are a number of different assault-based crimes you can be charged with, so it is important that our Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyers break down exactly what constitutes each crime listed under this statute.


The crime of assault in Utah is defined as attempting or succeeding in causing bodily injury to another person through unlawful force or violence. Simple assault is classified as a Class B misdemeanor in Utah, which carries with it a potential sentence of a prison term of up to six months and fines pursuant to Utah Code § 76-3-204(2). This can be increased to a class A misdemeanor if, pursuant to Utah Code § 76-5-204(3)(b), the perpetrator causes serious bodily injury or injures someone who is pregnant. Class A misdemeanors, per Utah Code § 76-3-204(1), have prison sentences that cannot exceed 364 days, as well as fines. The term “serious bodily injury” is itself defined in Utah Code § 76-1-101.5(17) as any injury likely to cause disfigurement, death, or prolonged loss of function in a body part. For example, beating someone senseless to the point that they are paralyzed would be considered to have caused serious bodily injury.

Conduct that you would more or less expect to constitute assault is, in fact, assault. For example, punching someone in the face is assault in Utah, and you can go to prison for it.

Aggravated Assault

Utah also has a crime called aggravated assault that can be found under Utah Code § 76-5-103(2). In Utah, aggravated assault is when a perpetrator attempts, threatens, or accomplishes causing bodily injury to someone else with the use of a “dangerous” weapon, through strangulation, or other ways that have a good chance of causing death or serious bodily injury.

Utah Code § 76-1-101.5(7) defines dangerous weapons as “any” item that can cause death or serious injury. This includes a wide variety of things, but generally, it includes firearms, knives, and heavy objects. You should speak with our Lehi, UT criminal defense lawyers if you are concerned about being charged with aggravated assault using a dangerous weapon.

Aggravated assault is a third-degree felony which, under Utah Code § 76-3-203(3), carries with it a sentence of not more than five years, plus fines. Aggravated assault can be upgraded to a second-degree felony if the assault results in loss of consciousness or serious bodily injury, and it can be upgraded to a first-degree felony if the assault is against a law enforcement officer and causes serious bodily injury. Second and first-degree felonies have serious penalties, such as prison sentences not exceeding 15 years or, in the case of first-degree felonies, life in prison per Utah Code § 76-3-203(2) and § 76-3-203(1), respectively. Moreover, felony convictions can have long-lasting life consequences, such as losing your right to own firearms and difficulty finding housing, taking out loans, or finding employment.

Sexual Battery in Utah

There is no crime for generic “battery” in the Utah Code. However, there is the crime of sexual battery, which is detailed in Utah Code § 76-9-702.1(1). The crime consists of carrying out one of many sex offenses detailed in the Utah Code which include rape, incest, aggravated sexual assault, and intentionally touching someone’s buttocks, anus, genitals, or female-presenting breasts, while knowing that doing so is likely to cause harm to that person.

Sexual battery is a very serious crime. It is a Class A misdemeanor carrying with it a penalty of up to 364 days as well as fines. Additionally, depending on the offense, you may have to register in a sex offender’s registry for a period of time or indefinitely.

Speak to Our Utah Criminal Defense Lawyers Right Away

Overson Law’s Bountiful, UT assault defense lawyers can give you a free, confidential review of your case at any time when you call (801) 758-2287.