What Are the Penalties for Assault and Battery in South Carolina?
South Carolina law makes it illegal to physically attack others, but the penalties for assault can vary widely, depending on the facts and how the assault takes place. If you are accused of committing assault and battery in South Carolina, a Charleston criminal defense lawyer might be able to help you fight the charges and avoid prison. Here is a basic explanation of assault and the various penalties you can face if convicted.
Assault and Battery
Section 16-3-600 of the South Carolina Criminal Code defines four levels of assault and battery:
3rd Degree – Misdemeanor
Assault and battery in the third degree is punishable by a fine up to $500 and 30 days in jail. You may be convicted if you hurt someone or threatened harm. If based on the threat of harm, you must have had the ability to actually do harm at the time you threatened it.
2nd Degree – Misdemeanor
Assault and battery in the second degree is punishable by a fine up to $2,500 and as long as three years confinement in prison. To be convicted, the state must prove that you caused “moderate bodily harm,” as defined in the statute. Things that qualify as moderate bodily injury can include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Temporary loss of the use of a bodily organ
- Injury that requires general or local anesthesia
- Fractures and dislocations
- Minor scratches, bruises, scrapes and so forth do not generally count
1st Degree – Felony
Assault and battery in the first degree is punishable as long as 10 years confinement in prison. To be convicted, the state must prove one of the following:
- Assault involved non-consensual contact with a victim’s private parts
- Occurred in the commission of robbery, burglary, kidnapping, theft, or similar felony
High & Aggravated Nature – Felony
Assault and battery to a High and Aggravated Nature is punishable as long as 20 years confinement in prison. To be convicted, the state must prove that the assault caused great bodily harm (e.g. high likelihood of causing death or serious injury).
Charges Can Get Increased Unnecessarily
While most prosecutors mean well, sometimes the facts get taken out of context and valid defenses are overlooked. For instance, otherwise minor injuries may look worse in photographs, leading to a felony, rather than misdemeanor, charges. There are often good defenses available to those who are charged with assault and battery in South Carolina, including self-defense or defense of others. But the facts may be clouded by multiple versions or accounts.
It’s the Government’s Burden to Prove Your Guilt
Remember that the government has the ultimate burden to prove that you did the crime they say you did. A skilled and experienced criminal defense lawyer may be able to work with you to build a defense to the charges. If there are multiple versions of the event, then it may be enough to create a reasonable doubt.