What is assault and battery?
Assault and battery refers to a wide range of crimes with a common factor–threatening, causing or attempting to cause bodily harm to another person.
A person can be charged with assault, battery or both.
An assault is an offer to do harm to another with the present means of accomplishing that threat. Battery is the unlawful touching of another without their permission whether that touching causes injury or not.
Police officers making arrests and prosecutors seeking indictments will consider the circumstances of the the alleged facts of a case to determine whether first, second or third degree charges are appropriate, or if the appropriate charge is the South Carolina’s most serious assault and battery charge. This is “assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature” or ABHAN for short. ABHAN can be thought of as murder without death.
Degrees of assault and battery in SC
ABHAN is a felony battery charge for crimes involving physical contact (battery) that results in great bodily harm or an injury that’s likely to cause death. “Great bodily harm” is defined as permanent disfigurement or losing use of a limb.
First degree assault and battery is one level down from ABHAN. It’s also a felony charge. Assault and battery in the first degree means one of two things.
- The injury was caused during a theft, robbery, burglary or kidnapping, or
- There was non-consensual genital touching in a lewd manner.
Last but not least, second and third degree assault and battery are misdemeanor charges.
Second degree assault and battery means someone was moderately injured to the point of needing medical care. It could also include non-consensual touching of the genitals.
Assault and battery in the third degree simply means there was a situation in which a person hurt–or tried to hurt–another person.
Fines and penalties for assault and battery in South Carolina
In Berkeley County and Dorchester County, the prosecutor decides what the charges will be. If found guilty of assault and battery in SC, the fines and penalties a person faces depend on the charges brought by the prosecutor.
- Up to 10 years in prison
- Up to three years in prison and/or
- A $2500 fine
- Up to 30 days in jail, and/or
- A $500 fine
Assault and Battery of High and Aggravated Nature (ABHAN)
- SC Code of Laws (16-3-1600)
- Up to 20 years in prison
What to do if you’ve been charged with assault and battery in SC?
Remember, you have constitutional and civil rights that may protect you from a wrongful assault and battery charge. For example, self-defense is just one approach to a criminal defense against assault.
It’s also important that you remember these few things:
- Do not discuss your case with the police without your attorney present.
- Do discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
- Do not try to convince the alleged victim to drop the charges. The State of South Carolina–not the alleged victim–is prosecuting you. Even if the alleged victim wants the case dismissed, the State can still prosecute anyway.
If you’ve been charged with assault and battery in SC, you could face serious consequences. A conviction will impact your life beyond just possible jail time or fines. Your reputation is on the line. A felony or even a misdemeanor on your record can damage your ability to get hired for certain jobs. Or in some communities, it could prevent you from renting a place to live.
That’s a lot to think about. Feeling nervous about the outcome of your case is completely normal. Seeking the aid of an experienced criminal defense attorney will help put you at ease throughout the criminal justice process and give you the best chance at a good outcome.