Differences Between Assault and Domestic Violence in Columbia

A person can only be charged with both assault and domestic violence if there is more than one person involved. A person cannot be charged with assault and battery to a person who meets the definition of a household member because, then, that would be considered domestic violence, and not assault and battery.

However, if there were two people in the home and one person met the definitions provided under 16-25-10 for domestic violence, then that person could be charged with domestic violence against that specific individual. If there was another person in the home when all of this occurred then, depending on what was alleged, the defendant could also be charged with assault and battery against that person. This is an example of how a person could be charged with both at the same time, but not on the same person.

For more information on the differences between assault and domestic violence in Columbia, or if you find yourself in need of legal assistance for your case, reach out to a dedicated defense attorney today.

What is Assault in Columbia?

South Carolina has a charge of assault and battery, and it can be broken down into three degrees. These degrees are first, second, and third, with first-degree assault and battery offenses having the most severe penalties and third-degree offenses having the least severe penalties. Assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature is a charge that is above first-degree assault and battery.

Each degree has different levels of proof for somebody to be found guilty. Assault and battery in the third-degree is commonly known as simple assault. It can be found in the South Carolina Code of Laws, Section 16-3-600 (E). A person commits the misdemeanor offense of assault and battery, third degree when they unlawfully injure another person or attempt to injure another person with the present ability to do so. This crime comes with the possibility of up to 30 days in jail. Assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature can result in up to 20 years in prison.

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is defined by South Carolina law similarly to assault and battery, with having first, second and third degrees as well as a high and aggravated nature. The difference is that these cases involve the legal definition of a household member. If a person has inflicted physical harm or injury to a household member or attempted to cause such harm and created fear of imminent peril, that can be considered domestic violence.

A household member includes a spouse or former spouse, persons who have a child in common, people who are living together, and people who have cohabitated together. When determining the different levels of degrees, the type of injury becomes important. Moderate bodily injury will most likely result in a first-degree charge, whereas great bodily injury may warrant the definition of high and aggravated nature. The levels or degrees can also be impacted if there was a deadly weapon involved.

Reasons why Assault and Domestic Violence are Charged Differently

Other differences between assault and domestic violence in Columbia are evident in changes in the law. In 2015, the Domestic Violence Reform Act came into effect, which changed the nature of domestic violence laws to make punishments much more serious.

The elements and punishments of a second-degree assault and battery charge are not necessarily the same as those for a second-degree domestic violence charge The lowest level for a third-degree domestic violence now carries up to 90 days in jail as a maximum penalty, whereas the maximum penalty for assault and battery in the third degree is still up to 30 days in jail.

Difference in Defense Strategy for Assault and Domestic Violence Cases in Columbia

The differences between assault and domestic violence in Columbia can also be seen in the defense strategies an attorney may use. This is because the domestic violence statute is very specific, and the factors that are used to enhance the charge can also be used for the defense. One of the elements that can enhance a domestic violence charge to a second degree is whether the person knew or should have known that the victim was pregnant. Another factor in domestic violence cases is whether a minor was present or perceived the event.

A lot of times, police officers will charge a person with domestic violence in the second degree simply because minors were in the home. However, it may be the case that the children were in bed when the altercation occurred and did not perceive it. The statute is very specific about perceiving the event. If the minor was in bed, asleep, and did not actually hear anything going on, then the defense can try to get the domestic violence charge reduced to the third-degree.