Legal Blog

The Difference Between Battery & Domestic Battery in Indiana

13 June 2024 | Assault & Domestic Violence,  Battery,  

Attorney Sean Hessler

Written by
Sean Hessler

13 June 2024

Assault & Domestic Violence,  Battery,  

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When you’re angry, a confrontation can escalate. Whenever a situation gets out of your control, there’s a chance for violence. If that conflict involves family, you might face severe legal consequences.

Indiana makes a distinction between battery and domestic battery, even though they sound similar. However, there are different sentences available. Without the help of an Indianapolis criminal defense lawyer, you could be in significant trouble. Learn more about battery, domestic battery, and how to fight these charges.

What is Battery in Indiana?

Under Indiana law, battery is defined as the intentional touching of another person in a rude, insolent, or angry manner. This definition encompasses a wide range of actions, from minor physical altercations to more severe instances of physical harm.

The key elements that constitute battery charges include:

  • Intentional Touching: The act must be deliberate, not accidental.
  • Harm or Offensive Manner: The touching must cause physical harm or be offensive to the victim.

Examples of battery incidents include pushing someone during an argument, striking another person, or any unwanted physical contact that results in injury or discomfort.

Defining Domestic Battery in Indiana

Domestic battery, while similar to general battery, has specific criteria that set it apart. It involves an act of battery committed against a family or household member. In Indiana, domestic battery is defined as:

  • Battery committed against a spouse, former spouse, person with whom the defendant has a child, person with whom the defendant is or was in a dating relationship, or a family or household member.

This distinction is crucial as it highlights the relational context of the offense. Examples of domestic battery incidents include hitting a spouse during a domestic dispute, shoving a partner in a moment of anger, or any physical altercation between household members.

Why the Distinction Matters

Understanding the difference between battery and domestic battery is essential for several reasons:

  • Legal Strategy: The relationship between the parties involved can influence the legal strategy employed by defense attorneys.
  • Impact on Victims and Community: Domestic battery cases often involve additional considerations, such as protective orders and mandatory counseling.
  • Long-term Consequences: Convictions for domestic battery can carry more severe penalties and have lasting effects on personal records and future opportunities.

Legal Consequences for Battery Convictions

The legal consequences of battery and domestic battery can vary significantly:


  • Class B Misdemeanor: Up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
  • Class A Misdemeanor: Up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000 if certain aggravating factors are present (e.g., the battery results in bodily injury).
  • Level 6 Felony: Six months to 2.5 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 if the battery results in moderate bodily injury or if the victim is a public safety official, among other conditions.

Domestic Battery:

  • Class A Misdemeanor: Up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.
  • Level 6 Felony: Six months to 2.5 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 if the defendant has a prior unrelated conviction for battery or domestic battery, or if the domestic battery is committed in the presence of a child under 16 years old.
  • Level 5 Felony: One to six years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 if the domestic battery results in serious bodily injury or is committed with a deadly weapon.

Previous convictions and the severity of the incident play critical roles in determining the penalties for both battery and domestic battery.

Defenses for Battery and Domestic Battery Charges

Several defenses can be employed in cases of battery and domestic battery:

  • Self-defense: Arguing that the accused acted to protect themselves from harm.
  • Lack of Intent: Demonstrating that the touching was accidental and not intentional.
  • False Accusations: Proving that the allegations are unfounded or fabricated.

In domestic battery cases, additional defenses might include challenging the relationship status or the credibility of the accuser.

A skilled criminal defense lawyer is essential in building a robust defense strategy tailored to each case’s specifics.

Battery & Domestic Battery FAQs

What is the difference between battery and assault?

Indiana does not have an assault charge like other states. Instead, Indiana Code 35-45-2-1 defines verbal threats with intent as “intimidation,” which can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on a variety of factors.

Battery still involved physical contact while someone committing an act of criminal intimidation would merely be making a threat.

Can domestic battery charges be dropped?

In most domestic dispute cases, the victim may decide to have the charges dropped. However, once charges have been filed, the decision to drop charges lies with the prosecutor. A judge may choose to dismiss the case.

However, you cannot assume the prosecutor will listen to the victim and drop the charges. Working with a defense attorney is your best option to fight the charges and protect your future.

Call Hessler Law for Help with Your Domestic Battery Charges

Understanding the differences between battery and domestic battery is vital for anyone navigating these legal challenges.

Recognizing the implications, potential defenses, and long-term consequences can make a significant difference in the outcome of a case

That’s why you need an experienced and empathetic attorney working your case. Attorney Sean Hessler and Hessler Law are ready to hear your story and start your case. He’s helped many clients facing similar situations, and he’s prepared to investigate and build your case.

Call (317) 886-8800 or use our online form to schedule your consultation.