Assault and battery is a serious charge under South Carolina law. Every year, there are approximately 20,000 people who are arrested for these charges in the State.
Regardless of the type of alleged offense, you are facing potentially serious penalties. Convictions on more serious charges could lead to long jail sentences, sometimes with very strict rules against a possible early release.
While you face much uncertainty, the one certain thing is that you need a Columbia defense lawyer for your assault or battery charge. Trust the attorneys at Shealey Law Firm to defend your right to freedom.
The Degrees of Assault and Battery Under South Carolina Law
The main difference between assault and battery is that the former is the threat of the latter. In other words, an assault is the threat of an injury, while a battery is an actual unwanted touching that causes injury.
In reality, South Carolina law does not treat the two as if there is any difference — they are both charged under the same statute.
There are four degrees of assault and battery under South Carolina law, depending on the severity of the action.
Third-degree assault and battery is charged as a misdemeanor. It is otherwise known as “simple assault,” although nothing is simple about the consequences. Third-degree assault and battery is either when the defendant has threatened harm to someone with the present means of carrying out the threat or causes them injury. When the defendant does not have any weapon or means to cause death, it may not actually be an assault because they do not have the present means to do what they threatened.
Second-degree assault and battery involves moderate injuries to the alleged victim, while third-degree assault may cover lesser injuries. This category also includes unwanted touching of private parts, either directly or through the clothing.
First-degree assault and battery is the most common type of case, and it involves great bodily harm or the threat of it. This category also includes touching the private parts of another with lewd intent and injuries that the defendant allegedly caused during the commission or robbery or kidnapping. First-degree assault does not necessarily need an actual injury. It could involve a threat like putting a gun to someone’s head or shooting at someone and missing.
There is an elevated felony charge in South Carolina of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature (ABHAN) in very serious cases of great bodily harm. Unlike a first-degree assault, ABHAN would require an actual injury.
Penalties for Assault and Battery in South Carolina
There is no such thing as a minor assault and battery charge in South Carolina. Any type of conviction has the potential to result in jail time. In addition, assault and battery is a violent crime that could have other impacts on your life, both now and in the future.
Examples of penalties for South Carolina assault and battery convictions include:
- Third-degree assault is a misdemeanor that is punishable with up to 30 days in prison and/or a $500 fine
- Second-degree assault is a misdemeanor that is punishable by up to three years in prison and/or a fine of up to $2,500.
- First-degree assault is a felony that is punishable with up to ten years in prison
- ABHAN is a felony that carries a jail sentence of up to 20 years. Since it is a serious crime, one would need to serve at least 85% of their sentence before they are eligible for parole.
In addition to criminal punishment, you could also experience other consequences that can put your future at risk, especially when you are convicted of a felony. Even a criminal record from a misdemeanor assault and battery conviction could cost you employment opportunities or even impact your custody of your children.
The possibility of a jail sentence and other consequences means that you should hire an experienced assault defense lawyer. When you have retained an attorney at Shealey Law Firm, we will review your case to help you determine whether you should fight the charges or try to negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor.
Defenses to Assault and Battery Charges
Common defenses to assault and battery charges include:
- You did not act with the intent necessary to be convicted. Assault and battery is a crime that requires specific intent; you cannot commit the crime by accident.
- You acted in self-defense or in the defense of others.
- You acted in defense of property.
- Under S.C. Code Ann. § 16-11-440, the State’s Protection of People and Property Act (otherwise known as Stand Your Ground or the castle doctrine), you are immune or should be immune to being prosecuted.
- You have an alibi; you were not where the indictment places you at the time of the incident.
- The alleged victim did not reasonably feel threatened by what you are alleged to have done.
While the prosecutor always has the burden of proof in your case, you may need to prove something like self-defense. You would need evidence to show that you reasonably felt threatened before you took action.
Alternatively, your lawyer could seek to make a deal with the prosecutor that could result in lesser charges or the recommendation of a lower sentence.
FAQs About Assault and Battery Charges in SC
What type of contact would be charged as battery?
Any type of touching could potentially be charged as battery. Even spitting on someone could be charged under South Carolina law.
What if I threw a punch and missed?
This would still be considered assault under State law.
Talk to a Columbia Assault and Battery Attorney Today
When you are facing any criminal charges, you should not wait to contact a lawyer. The prosecutor may try to pressure you into a plea deal before you even have a chance to learn more about your rights and options. You should hire a lawyer to help protect your rights.
The attorneys at Shealey Law Firm are determined and effective advocates for our clients facing assault and battery charges. We will work towards the best possible result in your case. You can speak with an attorney when you reach out to us online or call us at 803-590-3917.