What You Need to Know About Your Assault Charge
An arrest for assault can lead to severe penalties, including imprisonment. A conviction can ruin your reputation, family, and future. If you’re forced to serve a prison sentence, you can experience challenges upon your release. It’s much more complicated looking for a job and a place to live. You also might lose your right to vote or own a firearm.
South Carolina courts take assault seriously. There are varying types and degrees of assault charges a person can face. The consequences of an assault conviction can be far-reaching and affect every part of your life. Even if a judge dismisses your case or a jury finds you not guilty, you could still face the negative stigma of the initial arrest. You could lose your job and suffer the burden of a criminal record.
What Is Assault?
There are four separate categories of assault. The charge depends on the type of offense committed. Charges typically include assault and battery. Assault is the threat of bodily harm, while battery is unwanted touching of another person.
According to South Carolina Code 16-3-600(E)(1), assault and battery in the third degree, also called simple assault, occurs when a person unlawfully causes someone’s injury or offers or attempts to injure another person and they have the ability to cause injury.
South Carolina Code 16-30-600(D)(1) defines assault and battery in the second degree as an offense someone commits by unlawfully injuring another person or offering or attempting to injure them while having the ability to do so and:
- Causes moderate bodily injury or could have caused moderate bodily injury;
- Engages in nonconsensual touching of private parts under or above the clothing.
Assault and battery in the first degree as defined under South Carolina Code 16-30-600(C)(1) involves causing an unlawful injury to another person and:
- Nonconsensual touching of private parts above or under clothing with lascivious and lewd intent; or
- It happens while committing kidnapping, robbery, theft, or burglary.
First-degree assault and battery could also involve attempting or offering to cause injury to another person while having the ability to do so and this act:
- Occurs while committing burglary, robbery, kidnapping, or theft; or
- Involves using a method likely to result in great bodily injury or death.
Assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature is a severe charge of assault and battery. Someone commits this crime if they unlawfully cause injury to another person and:
- The person suffers great bodily harm; or
- The act occurs using a method likely to cause great bodily injury or death.
Sentencing for Assault and Battery
Assault and battery in the third and second degrees are considered misdemeanor offenses. However, if you committed assault and battery in the first degree or of a high and aggravated nature, you can face a felony sentence.
Penalties for assault and battery convictions depend on the degree of the charge. South Carolina issues sentencing guidelines judges can use to impose the appropriate sentence based on the type of crime and its severity. Misdemeanor offenses resulting in less than a one-year prison sentence are exempt from the classification system.
The maximum sentences allowed for assault and battery are below.
Assault and Battery of a High and Aggravated Nature
- Up to twenty years in prison
Assault and Battery in the First Degree
- A maximum of ten years in prison
Assault and Battery in the Second Degree
- No more than three years in prison;
- Up to a $2,500 fine; or
Assault and Battery in the Third Degree
- Up to thirty days of imprisonment;
- A maximum of a$500 fine; or
If convicted, committing assault and battery with a carried or concealed weapon could result in a harsher sentence. The penalty for this misdemeanor offense could include:
- Up to a $200 fine;
- At least three months but no more than twelve months in prison; or
This sentence is in addition to sentencing for the assault and battery charge if you’re found guilty of carrying or concealing a deadly weapon during the crime.
Common Defenses Against an Assault Charge
Multiple strategies are available to defend a person facing assault and battery charges. The most common include:
- Defense of others
- Defense of property
- Constitutional rights violation
- Coercion or duress
- Being incorrectly identified by a witness as the perpetrator
- Affirmative defenses
You should consult a criminal defense lawyer immediately following your arrest to determine the appropriate defense to use in your case.
Contact Truslow & Truslow
Since 2009, Truslow & Truslow has fought for the rights of our clients facing criminal charges. We bring more than 50 years of legal experience to each case we take. When you hire us, our team will review the circumstances of the crime to create an effective defense. You can count on us to tirelessly work to try to secure your freedom and future.
If you were arrested or charged with assault, call Truslow & Truslow at (803) 256-6276 today. One of our experienced and aggressive Columbia criminal defense lawyers can meet you for a confidential consultation. We’re available 24/7 to speak with you when you need assistance.