A charge of assault and battery is a serious matter, regardless of the degree of the charge. In South Carolina, there are four degrees of an assault an battery charge. In order from least serious to most serious, the charges are: assault and battery 3rd degree (sometimes called simple assault); assault and battery 2nd degree; assault and battery 1st degree; and assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature (sometimes called ABHAN). The degree of the charge varies based on the facts of the case, which can be nuanced and complex. It’s important to talk to an attorney experienced in defending assault and battery charges to provide you with sound advice and advocate for your defense.
Understand the Charges and the Penalties for Assault and Battery in South Carolina
In civil court, assault and battery are two different charges; assault being the threat of bodily harm and battery being an unwanted touching. However, South Carolina criminal law combines assault and battery together as one crime that is charged when a person causes injury to another person, or makes an offer or attempt to injure another person with the present ability to do so. The “present ability to do so” means the person offering or attempting to injure a person could actually do so at that moment. For example, a person making a threat over the telephone or on the computer would not be able to cause that harm at that moment, but a person who show their fist to another and says, “I’m gonna knock your lights out!” could be charged with an assault and battery crime.
Assault and Battery Third Degree: This is frequently referred to as simple assault and may be charged when a person causes injury to a victim or threatens to harm a victim with the present ability to follow through on that threat. If convicted, simple assault is a misdemeanor that carries a penalty of not more than $500 and not more than 30 days in jail.
Assault and Battery Second Degree: This charge meets the requirements of simple assault but has an additional requirement that the victim be moderately injured OR the defendant touched the private parts of the victim (over or under the clothes) without the victim’s consent. If convicted, assault and batter second degree is also a misdemeanor but carries much harsher penalties of up to $2,500 and up to 3 years in jail.
Assault and Battery First Degree: This charge is the most serious charge of assault and battery before ABHAN. This charge meets the threshold of simple assault with the additional requirement that the defendant injures another person and the injury 1) involves the nonconsensual touching of the private parts of the victim with lewd intent; OR 2) occurred during the commission of a robbery, burglary, kidnapping, or theft. If the defendant threatens or attempts to injure the victim, has the abiilty to do so, but doesn’t actually cause harm, then assault and battery 1st can be charged when the threat 1) is accomplished by means likely to produce death or great bodily injury OR 2) occured during the commission of a robbery, burglary, kidnapping or theft. Assault and Battery 1st degree is a felony charge that can carry a prison sentence of up to 10 years. Assault and battery 1st is also a lesser included charge of ABHAN and attempted murder, meaning all the elements of assalt and battery 1st are also parts of an ABHAN and attempted murder charge.
Assault and Batter of a High and Aggravated Nature (ABHAN): ABHAN may be charged when a person injures another person and “great bodily injury” to the victim results or the harm is accomplished by a means likely to cause death or great bodilly injury. ABHAN is a Class C felony charge carrying a charge of not more than 20 years in prison.
What to Do If You’re Charged with Assault and Battery in North Charleston?
Any degree of an assault and battery charge is a serious event. A criminal charge could also lead to civil liability for any injuries caused. You need the immediate advice of an attorney experienced in handling assault and battery charges in South Carolina. If you’ve been charged with assault and battery, call Deaton Law Firm today for a free consultation on your defense.