Assault and Battery

Assault and battery charges in SC cover a wide range of potential conduct, and the penalties vary widely based on the type of injuries the alleged victim sustained.

What types of assault and battery charges are there in South Carolina, what are the potential penalties, and what kind of defenses are available?

What is the “Legal” Definition of Assault and Battery in SC?

South Carolina’s assault and battery offenses are tiered in “degrees“ - the potential punishments increase as the severity of injury to the alleged victim increases.

Assault and Battery 3rd Degree

Assault and battery in the third degree is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail.

The offense used to be separated into: 1) Assault – threatening or “offering” to hurt a person; and 2) Battery – following through and making physical contact with a person. The two offenses are now combined into the one offense of “assault and battery” which covers:

  1. Unlawfully injuring a person; or
  2. Offering or attempting to unlawfully injure a person with the present ability to do so.
Assault and Battery 2nd Degree

Assault and battery in the second degree is when a person unlawfully injures another person, or offers or attempts to injure another person with the present ability to do so, and:

  1. They caused, or could have caused, moderate bodily injury to the other person; or
  2. They touched someone’s private parts without consent, either under or above clothing, without a lewd and lascivious intent.

Second degree assault and battery is a misdemeanor that carries up to three years in prison.

Assault and Battery 1st Degree

Assault and battery in the first degree is when a person unlawfully injures another person, and:

  1. They touched someone’s private parts without consent, either under or above clothing, with a lewd and lascivious intent; or
  2. It happened during the commission of a robbery, burglary, kidnapping, or theft.

It can also mean when a person offers or attempts to injure another person with the present ability to do so, and:

  1. It is accomplished by means likely to produce death or great bodily injury; or
  2. It happened during the commission of a robbery, burglary, kidnapping, or theft.

First degree assault and battery is a felony that carries up to ten years in prison.

Assault and Battery of a High and Aggravated Nature (ABHAN)

ABHAN is felony that carries as much as 20 years in prison. It is when a person unlawfully injures another person, and:

  1. It causes great bodily injury; or
  2. It was accomplished by means likely to produce death or great bodily injury.
What are Common Defenses to Assault and Battery in SC?

Many of the same defenses that apply to murder charges will equally apply to assault and battery charges, including:

  • Accident;
  • Self-defense;
  • Defense of others; and
  • Someone else did it.

The severity of the alleged victim’s injuries can determine which degree of assault and battery a person is charged with or convicted of, and each step-down is a lesser included offense of the greater degrees.

Why is that important?

For example, if you are charged with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature (carries up to 20 years in prison) because the victim sustained “great bodily injury,” but, at trial, the prosecution fails to prove the severity of the injuries, the jurors could find you guilty of the lesser included offense of assault and battery 2nd degree (requires moderate bodily injury and carries only three years) or even assault and battery 3rd degree (requires “injury” and carries only 30 days).

SC Assault and Battery Defense Attorney in Myrtle Beach, Columbia, and Lexington

Lacey Thompson focuses her law practice exclusively on criminal defense including all levels of assault charges in SC.

If you have been charged with assault and battery in Horry County, Richland County, or Lexington County, call the Thompson Defense Firm now at 843-444-6122 or contact us online to set up a free consultation about your case.