Whether it’s spur-of-the-moment fight at the bar or a planned attack, the crime of assault and battery can take on many different forms. While many states separate assault and battery into two charges, the state of South Carolina combines them into one. Here’s what you need to know about the offense and its penalties in South Carolina.
Degrees of Assault and Battery
First of all, the crime of assault and battery focuses on the threat of injury to another person. You can be charged with the offense whether you try to injure another person, make a person reasonably fear that you’ll injure them, or actually cause an injury to another person.
Assault and battery is divided into four categories, which depend on the severity of the offense:
1. High and Aggravated Nature (ABHAN): The offender caused great bodily injury—like the loss of a limb or an organ, or a serious injury that could lead to death.
a. A felony offense with a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.
2. First degree: The offender injured or tried to injure another person or actually injured them. In addition, the assault involved non-consensual touching of the injured person’s private parts; OR the assault happened during a robbery, burglary, kidnapping, or theft; OR if the offender intended to cause great bodily injury in line with the definition of HAN assault and battery.
a. A felony offense with a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.
3. Second degree: The offender threatened or caused bodily injury, causing the victim to require surgery or treatment of their internal organs as a result. A second-degree charge may also involve nonconsensual touching of the injured person’s private parts.
a. A misdemeanor offense with maximum jail time of up to 3 years and a maximum fine of up to $2,500.
4. Third degree: The offender injured a person, attempted to injure a person, or made a person fear injury. This can apply to very minor injuries as well.
a. A misdemeanor offense with maximum jail time of up to 30 days and a maximum fine of up to $500.
As you can see, the greater the nonconsensual touching, the greater the penalties. If there is bodily injury, the injury can make an assault and battery charge more severe. The offense can also go up a level if committed with a deadly weapon, or something that can be used to kill.
Assault and battery on a police officer is another, more serious version of the crime, and it automatically comes with higher penalties. As a felony, it can lead to jail time of up to 10 years and a fine ranging between $1,000 and $10,000.
Next Steps After an Assault and Battery Offense
In cases involving injury against another person, there are a few different reasons why you might need a lawyer to help you through the next steps.
If you were the one who was injured, you may want to sue for damages in a civil court (as opposed to the criminal process). With the right representation, you may be able to get rewarded for medical bills, lost wages, and the costs of pain and suffering.
If you have been charged with assault and battery, it’s equally important for you to find a smart criminal defense lawyer to protect your rights. With the right approach, you may be able to avoid life-changing penalties like jail time, fines, and a black mark on your criminal record.
In either case, call The Woods Law Firm to be educated about this and other crimes and to know your rights. We will go above and beyond to make sure your case reaches a fair outcome.