It can be easy to do something in the heat of anger and regret one’s actions later. However, like many other Pennsylvania residents, you might not realize that it may be easier than you thought to receive assault and battery charges, even if you did not mean to harm someone or did not physically strike another. 

Consider, for example, this theoretical situation at a bar. You and a friend unintentionally cut in line in front of another patron, who becomes angry. The other person gets in your friend’s face, screaming obscenities and threatening to beat him up if he catches him alone. The other bar patron could receive assault charges, despite not having laid a hand on you or your friend. According to FindLaw, assault includes the intentional threat or attempt to injure someone else using force or violence. No contact was made, but your friend could reasonably be afraid for his safety, which is all that is needed for an assault charge. 

Battery is physical contact in an offensive or harmful manner without the other person’s consent. If the other bar patron shoved, punched or spit on you or your friend, he could be charged with battery. If you accidentally stepped on another bar patron’s foot, this would not count as battery, since you did not intend to hurt anyone. 

As you can see, incidents involving assault and battery can escalate unexpectedly even if you did not want to become involved in an altercation. It is also possible to receive charges after an incident involving multiple people, despite being innocent. This information should not replace the advice of a lawyer.