Assault and battery go hand-in-hand, and the terms are often used interchangeably. A lot of confusion surrounds what constitutes assault and/or battery and the different charges related to this offense. There are many ways and degrees to which someone can commit assault. Battery refers to the unwanted act of physical contact. Assault is the threat of unwanted contact that causes someone to fear they will be harmed. Both assault and battery are included as assault charges under the South Carolina criminal code. Here’s what you need to know when defending assault charges.
What Is Simple Assault?
A third-degree assault charge is often called “simple assault,” “common law assault,” or “simple assault and battery.” It is the most common assault and battery charge. Unlike first or second degree assault charges, simple assault does not cause serious physical injury to the victim and does not involve the use of a weapon.
Third-degree assault charges are usually the result of a confrontation in which one person wishes to press charges. Common examples of simple assault include pushing, grabbing, hair pulling, spitting, slapping, and scratching. Because assault can mean the perceived threat of an unlawful attack, you do not even need to touch the other person to be charged with simple assault.
South Carolina Simple Assault Laws
The South Carolina criminal code considers an assault in the third degree to have taken place when someone “unlawfully injures another person, or offers or attempts to injure another person with the present ability to do so.” A conviction of assault in the third degree could carry a fine of up to $500 and up to a month in jail.
If the assault caused significant bodily injury, was sexual in nature, or occurred in conjunction with another crime, you will be charged with a more serious assault charge and will face more severe penalties. Second degree assault and battery carries up to a $2,500 fine and three years in jail, while first degree assault is a felony charge that may lead to a 10-year prison sentence. Finally, the most serious assault charge is called assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature. Similar to attempted murder, a conviction of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature can land you in prison for 20 years.
Defending Simple Assault Charges In South Carolina
The maximum penalties for third-degree assault allowed by law in South Carolina include a $500 fine and 30 days in jail. However, a judge will not typically hand down the maximum sentence for simple assault to a first-time offender. Depending on your criminal history (or lack thereof) and the circumstances in your case, a defense attorney may be able to negotiate a lighter sentence, such as community service or probation. A skilled criminal defense attorney might even get your charges dismissed. The outcome of your case is highly dependent on the discretion of the judge, the facts in your case, and the skill of your legal representation.
If you are facing assault and battery charges, Charleston criminal defense attorneys McCoy & Stokes, LLC can help. Contact us today at (843) 628-2855.