West Columbia Assault Lawyer

If you have been arrested after an altercation and are facing assault charges, you should know that even misdemeanor assault is considered a violent crime and can result in a jail term. Once a person has a conviction for a violent crime on their record, they could be excluded from certain jobs and apartments forever. This is a harsh result for someone who perhaps had a momentary lapse of control and lost their temper.

An aggressive criminal defense lawyer could help a person accused of assault present an effective defense. They would stand by the client and protect their rights throughout the legal proceedings. Depending on the circumstances, a vigorous defense might spur a prosecutor to reduce the charges or even dismiss them entirely.

Different Degrees of Assault and Battery

In South Carolina, assault and battery is categorized by various degrees.

Assault and Battery in the Third Degree

Third-degree assault or simple assault occurs when an unarmed person physically tries to harm another person, but no bodily injury results. Simple assault is a misdemeanor, but conviction could send an offender to the Lexington County Detention Center for up to 30 days. Offenders also could be subject to a $500 fine.

Assault and Battery in the Second Degree

A second-degree assault is an attack that either caused moderate bodily injury or could have caused moderate bodily injury. South Carolina Code §16-3-600(3) defines moderate bodily injury as a:

  • Temporary but prolonged loss of consciousness
  • Fracture
  • Dislocation
  • Temporary loss of function of a body part
  • Condition that requires treatment using local or general anesthesia

Even if there is no physical injury, non-consensual touching of someone else’s private parts, whether above their clothing or under their clothing, is second-degree assault. Conviction on this charge can lead to a prison sentence of up to three years, a fine of $2500, or both.

Assault and Battery in the First Degree

First-degree assault is either attacking someone and causing a serious injury or attempting to cause them a serious injury with the means to do so. An attempt to injure someone during the commission of certain other crimes is also first-degree assault. Non-consensual touching of someone’s private parts, above or below their clothing, with lewd intent also constitutes first-degree assault. This crime is a felony, and conviction could lead to a ten-year prison sentence.

Assault and Battery of a High and Aggravated Nature

Aggravated assault is commonly known as ABHAN. A prosecutor might bring an ABHAN charge when a person suffers a serious physical injury (great bodily injury – GBI) in an attack or if the attack was such that it could have caused serious physical injury (GBI). ABHAN is also a lesser included charge in attempted murder charges. Conviction on an ABHAN count could result in up to 20 years imprisonment.

Defenses to Assault Charges

In any criminal case, the police and prosecutors must adhere to correct procedures that protect the accused’s rights. Challenging law enforcement to show that they followed proper procedures is one of the most important jobs of a defense attorney. If they can show law enforcement’s procedural failure, a prosecutor might opt not to pursue a case, or a judge could suppress evidence on procedural or constitutional grounds.

Another possible defense is challenging the prosecutor’s proof of intent. Assault requires a person to intend to harm another and to have the means to do so. Prosecutors must be able to prove intent to harm as well as means to harm. If this aspect of their case is weak, the accused’s counsel could assert that the prosecution did not prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt and earn an acquittal for the client.

Another way an accused’s counsel could help is by insisting that prosecutors bring only the charge for which they have adequate proof. Prosecutors often will stretch the facts to bring the most serious charge. A defendant’s legal advocate could insist that a prosecutor bring the charge the evidence supports and then negotiate from there. This may result in a better outcome for the client.

Schedule a Consultation With a West Columbia Assault Attorney

Assault is a serious charge with serious consequences. Having a skillful professional to guide you through the process could make a big difference in the result.

If you believe you might face assault charges, contact a West Columbia assault lawyer as soon as you are able. They have the experience to provide you a strong defense.