Here's what to expect if you've been charged and convicted
Being charged and convicted of assault and battery in South Carolina can have serious consequences. Depending on what type of assault and battery charge you’re up against and many other factors, you could end up serving jail time, being fined thousands of dollars, and other penalties.
This is why it’s critical that you fully understand your charges, the penalties for being convicted of such a crime, and the legal options available to you. Otherwise, your life could be turned upside down if you are found guilty of assault and battery.
What is assault and battery in South Carolina?
Assault and battery is a particular type of criminal charge. As the name suggests, someone charged with assault and battery either physically harmed someone or attempted to physically harm someone. However, there are many subtle variations from a legal standpoint when it comes to assault and battery in South Carolina.
Legally, assault is defined as causing or attempting to cause an injury to someone else. As a result, simply threatening to harm someone else may be considered assault in the eyes of the law. This is why someone’s “general intent” can play a significant role in assault and battery charges. The person charged with assault and battery did not accidentally hurt someone.
As for battery, the legal system defines it as touching someone else without their consent. Whether someone intended to harm another person isn't a factor with regard to battery charges. What does matter is whether the person charged with assault and battery intentionally meant to touch someone else. If someone accidentally touched another person, that is not considered battery.
In short, someone in South Carolina can be charged with Assault, Battery, or Assault and Battery. There are many different types of charges, each of which has its own distinct penalties under the law.
Types of assault and battery charges
South Carolina has many different types of assault and battery charges. These different criminal charges can be found in the South Carolina Code of Laws, Title 16 (Crimes and Offenses). Some of the most common types of assault and battery charges include:
- Assault and Battery in the Third Degree – Also known as “Simple Assault,” this charge is a Misdemeanor charge in South Carolina that often involves causing so-called “minor” injuries to someone else or simply threatening them with violence. Specifically, South Carolina Code of Laws, Title 16, Article 7, Section 16-3-600, (E)(1) defines assault and battery in the third degree as any action in which a “person unlawfully injures another person, or offers or attempts to injure another person with the present ability to do so.”
- Assault and Battery in the Second Degree – This charge is a Misdemeanor and often involves causing “moderate bodily injury” to someone else or “the act involves the nonconsensual touching” of someone else’s private parts, according to South Carolina Code of Laws, Title 16, Article 7, Section 16-3-600, (D)(1)(A) and (B).
- Assault and Battery in the First Degree – This charge is a Felony and often involves intentionally causing “great bodily injury” or injuring someone “during the commission of a robbery, burglary, kidnapping, or theft,” according to South Carolina Code of Laws, Title 16, Article 7, Section 16-3-600, (C)(1).
- Aggravated Assault and Battery – Officially referred to as “assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature” (ABHAN), this charge is a Felony and often involves causing “great bodily harm” “by means likely to produce death,” according to South Carolina Code of Laws, Title 16, Article 7, Section 16-3-600, (B).
These are just some of the most common types of Assault and Battery charges in South Carolina. There are many other similar types of charges. And every single one needs to be taken very seriously in each case.
Penalties for an assault and battery conviction in South Carolina
If convicted of assault and battery in South Carolina, the following penalties may apply:
- Assault and Battery in the third degree – Up to 30 days in jail and up to a $500 fine.
- Assault and Battery in the Second Degree – Up to three years in jail and up to a $2,500 fine.
- Assault and Battery in the First Degree – Up to 10 years in prison.
- Aggravated Assault and Battery – Up to 20 years in prison.
The importance of ‘Degree of Injury’
In South Carolina, the severity of someone’s injury can have a serious impact on which type of assault and battery charge someone is charged with. This might sound straightforward. But there can be a great deal of debate about whether someone’s injuries are minor or severe.
For example, if the person charged with assault and battery intentionally broke another person’s arm, should the person who allegedly assaulted the other person be charged with first, second or third-degree assault and battery? Does it matter if the injury was a compound fracture or hairline fracture? These might seem like minor details. But they can have a serious impact on the person facing charges.
Who determines the degree of assault and battery?
Often, the investigating police officer who responds to an incident will charge an individual with Assault and Battery to a certain degree.
In addition, the Circuit Solicitor responsible for prosecuting criminal cases may have a say in which degree of Assault and Battery someone is charged with by the state. There are 16 Circuit Solicitors in South Carolina working on behalf of the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office.
Depending on which degree of Assault and Battery someone is charged with, their case will then likely be prosecuted and adjudicated in one of the following State Courts in South Carolina:
- Municipal Court – This court handles relatively minor charges involving penalties of less than 30 days of jail time and fines of no more than $500.
- Magistrate Court – This court often handles more serious charges and is often adjudicated by a judge in the form of a bench trial instead of a jury trial.
- General Sessions Court – Also known as a South Carolina Circuit Court, this court also handles most Felony charges and often features a jury trial.
Can you claim self-defense?
Yes. If someone charged with Assault and Battery in South Carolina can prove they were acting in self-defense, this could have a significant impact on the outcome of their case. In certain circumstances, someone charged with Assault and Battery may even be able to have their criminal charges dismissed on the grounds that their actions were in self-defense. This is why it’s critical to talk to a criminal defense attorney to go over your legal rights and options.
Talk to a criminal defense attorney today. Call Matt Bodman.
Assault and Battery is a serious crime in South Carolina. If you or a loved one is charged and convicted of Assault and Battery, the penalties can be severe depending on which degree of Assault and Battery you have been charged with.
Make sure you fully understand your legal rights and the legal options available to you. Make sure you talk with an experienced South Carolina criminal defense lawyer at the law offices of Matt Bodman P.A.
Located in Columbia and serving clients statewide, our law firm knows how the judicial system works in South Carolina. A former prosecutor, attorney Matt Bodman knows exactly how the other side works and which strategies can be the most effective.