In Oklahoma, assault and battery are two separate crimes but also can be charged as the single crime of “assault and battery.” An offender is guilty of “assault and battery” when the act of assault culminates in a battery. This crime can be a misdemeanor or a felony in Oklahoma.
Assault occurs when a person threatens or attempts to cause physical harm to another person. (Okla. Stat. Ann. Tit. 21, §641.) The threat must involve physical action like drawing a fist or charging toward a victim. Words alone are not enough.
A battery is the intentional use of force against another person, causing harm or offense to the victim. Striking a person with a fist and spitting on another both are acts that constitute battery. (Okla. Stat. Ann. Tit. 21, §642.)
Threatening to hit a person is an assault. If the offender actually strikes the victim after making the threat, the offender can be charged with assault and battery.
Aggravated Assault and Battery
The crime of assault and battery is aggravated if:
- the attack results in great bodily injury to the victim, or
- the crime is committed by an able-bodied person against an elderly, disabled or incapacitated person. (Okla. Stat. Ann. Tit. 21, §646.)
Great Bodily Injury
A person commits aggravated assault and battery if he causes more than minor injury to the victim. Great bodily injury consists of:
- bone fracture
- visible or obvious disfigurement that is more than temporary
- loss of function of a body part or organ of the body that is more than temporary
- long term brain injury, or
- injury involving serious risk of death.
Aggravated assault and battery is a separate crime from assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. For information on the crime of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, see Assault and Battery with a Dangerous Weapon in Oklahoma.
Assault or battery committed against a spouse, family member or someone you are dating is considered domestic abuse and can result in higher penalties than general assault and battery. For more information about domestic abuse laws, see Domestic Violence Laws in Oklahoma.
Penalties for Aggravated Assault and Battery in Oklahoma
A person who commits aggravated assault and battery can be sentenced to serve up to five years in prison or ordered to pay a fine up to $500, or both.
Assault and battery against certain victims
Aggravated assault and battery against certain victims in Oklahoma is considered a more serious offense and subjects the offender to a greater penalty such as a higher fine and a longer prison sentence. These special victims include:
- law enforcement officers while engaged in the performance of their duties
- emergency medical providers while performing medical duties
- school employees engaged in performing their duties, and
- human services department employees engaged in the performance of their duties if the offender is in the custody of that department
The enhanced penalty for aggravated assault and battery against a special victim can be very significant. For example, aggravated assault and battery on a law enforcement officer is punishable by up to life in prison. If the offender knew that the victim was a law enforcement officer and causes great bodily injury the officer, the required minimum prison sentence is five years but the court, again, can impose a sentence up to life in prison.
(Okla. Stat. Ann. Tit. 21, §650)
A person convicted of aggravated assault and battery in Oklahoma can be required to pay restitution, which involves reimbursing the victim for any expenses resulting from the crime, such as the cost of medical treatment or counseling or repair or replacement of damaged property.
Sentencing and Probation
A court in Oklahoma can impose a deferred or suspended sentence for aggravated assault and battery.
The court can defer the proceedings in a case for up to ten years without entering a judgment of guilt and later dismiss the case if the defendant complies with certain conditions which can include probation, community service, or even serving a period of time in jail or prison. A person on supervised probation must meet with a probation officer and comply with conditions of probation such as treatment, maintaining employment and avoiding any further criminal activity or arrests.
A court also can suspend all or part of a prison sentence and allow the defendant to serve all or part of the sentence on supervised or unsupervised probation so long as the defendant complies with the conditions of probation. The court can impose probation for up to two years or for as long as the maximum possible sentence in the case.
Pleas and Pre-Trial Options
Aggravated assault and battery is a very serious charge in Oklahoma. If you are facing this charge, an attorney can investigate the case and determine if you were wrongfully charged or there are other reasons why the case should be dismissed before trial. An attorney also may be able to negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor on your behalf, or prepare a defense and represent you at trial if you believe you have been wrongly accused or if there are no reasonable plea options. Prosecutors may negotiate and agree to a lighter sentence in exchange for a guilty plea or to the defendant pleading guilty to a different, less serious crime.
The Value of Good Representation
A conviction for the felony of aggravated assault and battery becomes part of your permanent criminal record. If you are convicted later of another crime, the court can consider your prior conviction and impose a harsher sentence in the new case. A convicted felon loses the right to vote, hold public office, serve as a juror (for seven years) and carry or own firearms. In certain circumstances, a felony conviction also can result in loss of a professional license. A conviction for a violent felony can hurt you when you are looking for a job or applying to rent a house or apartment.
Only someone familiar with the local criminal court system and cases like yours will know how good your chances are for a favorable outcome in court or at the negotiating table. A knowledgeable attorney will take all of this into consideration, assist you in making decisions about your case, and protect your rights.