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The Crime of Assault and that of Battery
The Crime of Assault and that of Battery

The Crime of Assault and that of Battery

More often than not, the crime of assault and that battery have been confused, one with the other.

An assault is intentionally or recklessly causing another to apprehend immediate and unlawful violence, whereas battery is the intentional or reckless infliction of unlawful force.
An assault consists of conduct which causes another to fear imminent unlawful violence. A battery consists of the infliction of unlawful personal violence, which includes any infringement of personal autonomy, however slight the contact may be, without consent or another lawful excuse
Section 84 of the Criminal Offenses Act (Act 29) provides the definition of assault in Ghanaian law. It includes the intentional act of applying force to another person without their consent. This definition can be interpreted to encompass the concept of battery, which involves intentional and unlawful physical contact with another person.

Assault and battery embody two key aspects; Causing apprehension of immediate physical harm, referring to the intentional conduct that instils fear or creates a reasonable belief in the victim that they are about to suffer immediate physical harm.

This can include threatening gestures, verbal threats, or any actions that make the victim believe they are in danger. And that of applying force without consent, referring to the intentional act of physically contacting another person without their consent. This can involve actions such as hitting, punching, slapping, pushing, or any form of physical force.

The Ghanaian Law

Assault in Ghana is considered a criminal offence and per section 84 of the Criminal Offenses Act, assault is classified as a misdemeanour. The punishment for assault in Ghana can be found in Sections 84 and 298 of the Criminal Offenses Act (Act 29) and Act 30 respectively, which stipulates that upon conviction, the offender can be sentenced to imprisonment for up to three years or a fine, or both.

While Ghanaian law does not specifically define or distinguish battery as a separate offence, the concept of battery can be understood within the broader framework of assault. The intentional and unlawful physical contact or offensive touching of another person without their consent can be considered as falling under the umbrella of assault, depicted under sections 86 and 87 of Act 29 which gives an accurate description of an assault and battery and that of an assault without actual battery.