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15 Top Questions About Assault & Battery Charges in SC
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15 Top Questions About Assault & Battery Charges in SC

No one expects to be arrested for assault and battery.

Many times, situations get out of hand, and the police wind up settling the dispute. But a barroom-type scuffle isn’t the only thing that can land you an assault charge.

If you’ve been charged with assault and battery, you need to know what you’re up against. For an in-depth look at assault and battery charges themselves, read my article explaining assault charges. Assault and battery charges can seem very complicated and confusing which is why you need an attorney to walk you through your case.

There are many different types and degrees of assault and battery charges, and one factor or another can make the difference between a relatively minor charge and a serious charge.

I get asked by some clients if assault and battery are actually two different kinds of charges. For the purposes of South Carolina law, assault charges and battery charges are the same thing.

That’s just one question I hear frequently. Here are 15 others I put together for your convenience.

Questions my clients ask about assault charges

1. What does assault and battery mean?

When you’re charged with assault and battery, the police and prosecution say you caused injury or attempted to cause injury to another person. Four different assault and battery charges (which are described in answers to the following questions) distinguish how serious the criminal act was.

2. Are assault and battery the same?

Assault and battery charges are now considered the same thing. In South Carolina, assault charges were at one time separate from battery charges. Now, they both fall under the same laws.

3. Is assault and battery a felony?

In some circumstances, an assault and battery charge can be a felony. If you’re charged with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature (also known by the acronym “ABHAN”) or assault and battery in the first degree, both of these are felonies.

4. Is assault and battery a misdemeanor?

Sometimes assault and battery is a misdemeanor. Assault and battery in the second and third degrees are misdemeanors.

5. What is assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature?

Assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, or ABHAN, is more serious than a 1st degree charge but less serious than attempted murder. To be assigned this charge, the accused is said to have done something that caused or was likely to cause great bodily injury to another person. Again, any act more serious is charged with at least attempted murder.

Here is the penalty for ABHAN:

Charge
Classification
Penalty
Assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature (ABHAN) Felony Up to 20 years in jail

6. What is assault and battery, 1st degree?

A 1st degree charge for assault and battery means the accused caused or likely could have caused serious bodily injury to another person plus either of the two following scenarios:

  • The assault involved nonconsensual touching of the private parts of a person over or underneath clothing; or
  • The assault happened during the commission of a robbery, burglary, kidnapping, or theft.

Assault and battery, 1st degree is a lesser offense than attempted murder and ABHAN. This is the penalty for a 1st degree charge:

Charge
Classification
Penalty
Assault and battery, 1st degree Felony Up to 10 years in jail

7. What is assault and battery, 2nd degree?

Assault and battery, 2nd degree is a charge meaning the accused person is said to have done one of two things, either…

  • Caused or could have caused moderate bodily injury, OR
  • Touched the private parts of a person, either under or above clothing.

This charge is less serious than ABHAN and also a 1st degree charge but more serious than a 3rd degree charge. This is the penalty for assault and battery in the 2nd degree:

Charge
Classification
Penalty
Assault and battery, 2nd degree Misdemeanor Up to three years in jail and/or a fine up to $2,500

8. What is assault and battery, 3rd degree?

A charge for assault and battery in the 3rd degree is also called a simple assault. It is the lowest assault charge. To be charged with simple assault, your actions amount to an attempt to illegally injure someone. If you’re successful in injuring the other person, the charge is the same.

If convicted, you face the following penalty:

Charge
Classification
Penalty
Assault and battery, 3rd degree Misdemeanor Up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine up to $500

9. What is domestic assault and battery?

Domestic assault and battery is different from the charges discussed above. The primary difference between domestic violence and other assault charges is the relationship between the defendant and the victim. The two must be “household members” as defined by law. When household members assault one another, the charge is for domestic violence. For non-household members, the charge is for assault and battery.

10. Is assault and battery on a police officer a felony?

Assaulting a police officer who is in the act of serving the public, including serving legal papers or arresting someone, is a felony. If convicted, the penalty is a fine between $10,000 and $10,000 and/or up to 10 years in jail.

11. What does assault and battery by mob mean?

South Carolina law defines a mob as “the assemblage of two or more persons, without color or authority of law, for the premeditated purpose and with the premeditated intent of committing an act of violence upon the person of another.” In other words, a group is considered a mob when two or more people get together to try and hurt someone.

The penalties for assault by mob depend on what happens to the victim.

  1. If the victim dies, the charge is 1st degree.
  2. If the victim suffers serious bodily injury, this is a 2nd degree charge.
  3. If the victim suffers bodily injury (that isn’t serious), the charge is in the 3rd degree.

Here are the penalties for each charge:

Charge
Classification
Penalty
Assault and battery by mob, 1st degree Felony At least 30 years in jail
Assault and battery by mob, 2nd degree Felony 3 to 25 years in jail
Assault and battery by mob, 3rd degree Misdemeanor Up to 1 year in jail

12. Can you go to jail for assault and battery?

Yes, jail time is possible for an assault and battery charge. The judge has discretion in how long of a sentence is handed down. The degree of the charge and your criminal record are factors in the judge’s decision.

For 2nd and 3rd degree charges, jail time may be accompanied by a fine. Or the judge can choose to punish only by fine. ABHAN and 1st degree charges do not have fines associated with them, so the judge only has jail time as a punishment option.

13. Can assault and battery charges be dismissed?

Yes, assault and battery charges can be dismissed. Many times, a dismissal comes as part of a plea bargain negotiated between your attorney and the prosecutor. Other times, the charges might be dropped in exchange for a plea to lesser charges. And sometimes, the prosecutor doesn’t have enough evidence to make a good case.

14. Can assault and battery charges be expunged?

An assault and battery charge can be expunged from your criminal record if one of the following is true:

  1. The charges were dismissed by the prosecutor or judge, OR
  2. You were found not guilty at trial.

If you’re convicted, you most likely will not be eligible for expungement. There are a couple exceptions to this general rule for youthful offenders and juvenile offenses. In any case ABHAN convictions can never be expunged.

15. Can the victim drop assault and battery charges?

The victim does not have the authority to drop assault and battery charges. Once they’re filed, the Solicitor is the only person who can drop them.

While the victim is often the prosecution’s star witness, the victim does not have to be involved in the case. In some circumstances, this means the Solicitor doesn’t have much of a case to prosecute. But other times, the Solicitor can move forward with a strong case without the victim’s involvement. Under no circumstances should the defendant ask the victim to stop cooperating with the Solicitor.

Help with your particular case

I hope the Q&A above answered many of your questions about assault and battery charges. But if you’re facing a charge, please consider discussing your case with an assault & battery attorney.

Dial 803-779-4472, or use this form to send me an email.

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