Assault and battery can be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or a felony - depending upon the nature and seriousness of the injuries. Assault is the threat of violence upon another person. A person need not be injured to be the victim of an assault. Words alone do not constitute an assault. Not even fighting words.
For an assault and battery to be a crime, there must also be some action and intent behind the words for the crime to be criminally punishable. Battery is any offensive touching. A punch, grab or improper bumping can constitute a battery if the act is done with the intent to cause harm. If an assault occurs by the use of a gun, knife, car, or any object used as a weapon (hands, feet, pool cue, chair leg, telephone receiver, shoe, etc.), the crime may be charged as a felony assault with a deadly weapon.
A common defense to assault and battery is "self defense". If a "reasonable person" in similar circumstances would feel threatened by an attack, that person may use all force reasonably necessary to prevent injury. Another defense is consent. While most jurisdictions differ on this issue, the type and quality of the victim’s consent must be informed and voluntarily and must not exceed the scope reasonably intended by the parties.
If a defendant is found criminally liable, the punishment for felony assault and battery is imprisonment, a fine, or both. The amount of time a defendant must serve in prison depends on the criminal code. When the offense is committed with the intent to murder or do serious bodily injury, the law considers this to be an aggravated assault and battery and is punishable as a felony. A felony is any crime punishable by more then one year in jail.
For more information on criminal assault and battery, self-defense, and punishment visit GotTrouble.com