Today in Charleston’s Post and Courier there is a story about an “assault” that took place in Asheville, North Carolina. Here’s the link:
Legally speaking, an assault and a battery are two totally different things. A battery is when a person unlawfully injures another person. An assault is when a person “attempts to injure another person with the present ability to do so.” Think of a battery of a punch. Think of an assault of a body builder forming a fist and threatening to punch you in the face while he’s standing right in front of you.
In South Carolina, a simple assault or a simple battery are both punishable by up to 30 days in jail or a fine up to $500. However, with assessments and court costs, the $500 fine can balloon up to over $1,000. What makes an assault or battery simple? The classification depends on the degree of injury suffered by the alleged victim. That degree of injury is important because any degree of injury of moderate bodily injury or greater will make the assault or battery much more serious in terms of of punishment for the defendant.
In the paper today, the article describes the “assault” as a punch. But as we can see from the discussion above, if the incident took place in South Carolina, the paper would be incorrect. The incident would correctly be characterized as a battery because it was an unlawful injury not an attempt to injure another person.
Having an experienced criminal defense attorney to explain why the assault and battery should be handled as a felony or misdemeanor or even dismissed is very important.