Maybe you were in a serious bar fight that put someone in a coma.
Or perhaps you were involved in a minor scrape up with a friend over a girl you both like.
Both of these scenarios fit the charge of Assault and Battery in South Carolina. That’s because there are actually 4 different criminal charges you could be facing, and it all depends on your situation.
In this article you will:
- learn about the charge of Assault & Battery of a High and Aggravated Nature;
- hear the differences between the 3 degrees of regular Assault & Battery charges;
- see examples of each type of charge; and
- learn the penalties you could be facing if convicted of Assault & Battery.
South Carolina Assault & Battery Charges
Generally, assault means offering or attempting to non-consensually touch another person. Battery occurs when contact is actually made with another person’s body, and that contact was non-consensual. Assault can be viewed as causing someone to fear harm to themselves, and battery is actually causing that harm. South Carolina links these two actions together under one charge called Assault and Battery and attaches different degrees to such conduct.
Some common examples of Assault and Battery are bar fights, physical altercations, a person throws something at another individual and either hits or does not hit the person, or even spitting on someone.
The 4 Assault & Battery Charges in SC
There are three degrees of Assault and Battery, and there is another offense called Assault and Battery of a High and Aggravated Nature (ABHAN). Generally, the charge you will face depends on the specific facts and circumstances of your alleged assault and battery case and/or the extent of injury that was caused. ABHAN is the most serious type of Assault & Battery charge in South Carolina. The least serious Assault & Battery charge in SC is a 3rd degree charge.
Assault & Battery of a High and Aggravated Nature
Starting with the offense that carries the largest penalty, Assault and Battery of a High and Aggravated Nature (ABHAN) occurs when a person unlawfully injures another person and great bodily injury results or the act is accomplished by means likely to produce death or great bodily injury.
The crux of an ABHAN case usually turns on the definition of “great bodily injury.” Great bodily injury, as it relates to Assault and Battery, is defined as bodily injury which causes substantial risk of death or which causes serious, permanent disfigurement or protracted loss of impairment of the function of a bodily member or organ.
An example of ABHAN would be a fight which resulted in the victim losing use of an eye. In this scenario, the person committing the ABHAN is not attempting to kill the victim with malice aforethought, otherwise the appropriate charge would be Attempted Murder.
The offense of ABHAN carries up to twenty (20) years in prison. In addition, ABHAN is a violent and serious offense. The term “violent” means that any prison time will be served in one of South Carolina’s violent facilities. Because ABHAN carries twenty (20) years, a person convicted of ABHAN will not be eligible for parole and will have to serve 85% of the prison sentence before being released. ABHAN is also a serious offense which means that it counts as a serious strike under South Carolina’s three strikes law.
1st Degree Assault & Battery
The offense of Assault and Battery, 1st Degree occurs when a person unlawfully injures another person AND the act:
- involves the non-consensual touching of the private parts of a person with lewd and lascivious intent,
- occurred during the commission of a robbery, burglary, kidnapping or theft, or
- occurred during the commission of a robbery, burglary, kidnapping or theft.
Assault and Battery 1st Degree can also occur if a person offers or attempts to injure another person with the present ability to do so, AND the act:
- is accomplished by means likely to produce death or great bodily injury OR
- occurred during the commission of a robbery, burglary, kidnapping, or theft.
The same definition of “great bodily injury” is used for Assault and Battery, 1st Degree. The difference is ABHAN requires an injury resulting in great bodily injury, while Assault and Battery, 1st degree doesn’t actually require an injury.
An example of Assault and Battery, 1st Degree would be swinging at someone with a baseball bat and missing.
Assault and Battery, 1st Degree is a felony that carries up to ten (10) years in prison.
2nd Degree Assault & Battery
Assault and Battery, 2nd Degree occurs when a person unlawfully injures another person, or offers or attempts to injure another person with the present ability to do so AND:
- moderate bodily injury results or moderate bodily injury to another person could have resulted OR
- the act involves the non-consensual touching of the private parts of a person.
The definition of moderate bodily injury is physical injury that involves prolonged loss of consciousness, OR that causes temporary or moderate disfirement or temporary loss of the function of a bodily member or organ, OR injury that requires medical treatment when the treatment requires the use of regional or general anesthesia OR injury that results in a fracture or dislocation. Moderate bodily injury does not include one-time treatment and subsequent observation of scratches, cuts, abrasions, bruises, burns, splinters, or any other minor injuries that do not ordinarily require extensive medical care.
An example of Assault and Battery, 2nd Degree would be pushing someone which results in the victim falling and breaking an arm.
Assault and Battery, 2nd Degree is a misdemeanor that carries up to three (3) years in prison or a fine of up to $2,500 or both.
3rd Degree Assault & Battery
Assault and Battery, 3rd Degree occurs when a person unlawfully injures another person, or offers or attempts to injure another person with the present ability to do so. There is no requirement that any particular level or any injury at all occurs.
An example of Assault and Battery, 3rd Degree would be slapping someone without injury resulting or with minimal injury resulting.
Assault and Battery, 3rd Degree is a misdemeanor which carries up to thirty (30) days in prison or a fine of up to $500 or both.
Ready for help with your Assault & Battery case?
As you can see, there are multiple degrees of Assault and Battery many of which have complex legal definitions attached to them. Assault and Battery cases, and other criminal cases, require taking the legal definition of the crime and applying it to the facts of each case.
If you find yourself charged with Assault and Battery, please find legal counsel with whom you are comfortable. Contact us today.
Questions? Speak With Jennilee.