Assault and Battery are Two Different Crimes in Georgia

On May 3, 2023, in Atlanta, Dion Patterson opened fire in the Northside Hospital Midtown Medical Building. He killed a 39-year-old woman and injured four other women and was charged with murder and four counts of aggravated assault. The aggravated assault charges are because he violated Georgia law on Aggravated Assault which defines aggravated assault, in part, as a person commits the offense of aggravated assault when he or she assaults with a deadly weapon … which, when used offensively against a person, is likely to or actually does result in serious bodily injury.

In this case, the fact that he possessed and used a deadly weapon was the aggravating factor that elevated his actions from simple assault to aggravated assault. He was not charged with aggravated battery because his use of a weapon did not maim, cause a loss of limb, or disfigure any of the surviving four women.

Two Different Crimes Under Georgia Criminal Law

Though often strung together as if it’s one crime, as in “assault and battery,” in Georgia, these crimes are defined as two separate crimes. Assault has two types: Simple Assault and Aggravated Assault. Similarly, Battery has different types: Simple Battery, Battery, Sexual Battery and Aggravated Battery. Often times an assault or battery charge involves family violence.

Domestic Violence

Georgia law defines “family violence” as the occurrence of any felony or a battery, simple battery, simple assault, assault, stalking, criminal damage to property, unlawful restraint, or criminal trespass between past or present spouses, persons who are parents of the same child, parents and children, stepparents and stepchildren, foster parents and foster children, or other persons living or formerly living in the same household.

Family violence does not mean reasonable discipline by a parent to a child in the form of corporal punishment, restraint, or detention.


The Official Code of Georgia Annotated or O.C.G.A. statute § 16-5-20 defines simple assault as: A person commits the offense of simple assault when he or she either:
Attempts to commit a violent injury to the person of another; or
Commits an act that places another in reasonable apprehension of immediately receiving a violent injury.

This type of crime does not involve threatening with a weapon or resulting in a life-threatening injury. It is considered a misdemeanor which is a lesser offense than a felony. If charged with simple assault, you can face up to one year in jail and pay fines up to $1,000.

However, O.C.G.A statute §16-5-21 defines aggravated assault as: A person commits the offense of aggravated assault when he or she assaults:

With intent to murder, to rape, or to rob;
With a deadly weapon or with any object, device, or instrument which, when used offensively against a person, is likely to or actually does result in serious bodily injury;
With any object, device, or instrument which, when used offensively against a person, is likely to or actually does result in strangulation; or
A person or persons without legal justification by discharging a firearm from within a motor vehicle toward a person or persons.

As you can see, aggravated assault is a much more serious assault. It is a felony, with a penalty of up to 20 years in prison with a mandatory minimum of one year in prison. A conviction at this level is life-altering.


Battery is a crime that is the actual act of making physical contact that causes physical harm or injury.

O.G.C.A. Code § 16-5-23 (2022) defines simple battery as: A person commits the offense of simple battery when he or she either:

Intentionally makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with the person of another; or
Intentionally causes physical harm to another.
This is punishable with up to one year in jail and fines, as well as often being required to pay restitution to the victim for any damages.

O.G.C.A. Code § 16-5-24 (2022) defines aggravated battery as “maliciously causes bodily harm to another by depriving him or her of a member of his or her body, by rendering a member of his or her body useless, or by seriously disfiguring his or her body or a member thereof.”
This means because of an attack or assault, the victim is maimed, suffers the loss of the use of a limb (arm or leg), or becomes disfigured. This can include the attacker using a weapon that results in this type of significant bodily harm. Aggravated battery is a felony and can result in up to 20 years in prison as well as high fines.

Contact Vic Wiegand — Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

If charged with an assault or battery, or both, you are going to need a good criminal defense attorney right away, like Forsyth County criminal defense lawyer Vic Wiegand. Georgia law is very tough, particularly on aggravated assault crimes and family violence crimes. An arrest should not be taken lightly, and the prosecution, almost always, will be looking for a conviction whenever possible. You will need the best defense possible if you have been charged.

If you or a loved one has been arrested on criminal charges, get in touch immediately with our office. We will do our best to protect your rights and defend you rigorously against all charges. Call Vic Wiegand, Attorney at Law, today at 770-886-4646 and let us help.

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