Assault and Battery with a Dangerous Weapon in Oklahoma
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.
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 that causes 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 as one crime.
Assault and Battery with a Dangerous Weapon
Assault, battery, or assault and battery with a dangerous weapon can be committed when the defendant acts:
- with intent to cause physical harm to another
- with a “sharp or dangerous weapon,” or
- by shooting at another with a firearm.
(Okla.Stat. Ann. Tit. 21, §645) Intent to cause physical harm means intent to cause any harm to another person, no matter how serious or minor.
Aggravated assault and battery also is a serious felony in Oklahomaand is addressed in detail in Aggravated Assault and Battery in Oklahoma.
Dangerous Weapon: A Sharp or Deadly Weapon
A dangerous weapon often is referred to as a deadly weapon. An object constitutes a dangerous or deadly weapon if it is designed to inflict life threatening or great bodily injury, or is used in a manner that could produce such injury. Firearms and knives are deadly weapons by definition but a large rock, steel toed boots and a baseball bat also are deadly weapons because they are not deadly by definition but could be used in a manner that would cause serious harm. To be a dangerous or deadly weapon, the object must be capable of causing death or a broken bone, visible disfigurement like a large scar on a person’s face, a serious head injury, or loss of function in some part of the body such as a leg or hand or bodily organ.
To be guilty of assault or battery with a dangerous weapon, the assailant might have intended to inflict no more than a minor injury. But the use of a weapon that could inflict “great bodily injury” elevates the crime to a more serious offense.
A person who commits assault, battery, or assault and battery with a deadly weapon can be sentenced to up to one year in jail or up to ten years in prison.
Assault with a deadly weapon against an emergency medical provider while the victim is performing his duties is treated separately from other crimes of assault with a dangerous weapon and is punishable by up to one year in prison or a fine up to $1,000, or both. Battery or assault and battery with a dangerous weapon against this victim is not a separate crime.
Shooting at a spouse, family member, a person you are dating, or a person with whom you have a child is domestic abuse and is a very serious crime in Oklahoma, punishable by up to life in prison. (Okla.Stat. Ann. Tit. 21, §644.)
For more information about domestic abuse laws in Oklahoma, see Domestic Violence Laws in Oklahoma.
A person convicted of assault, battery, or assault and battery with a dangerous weapon 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 assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.
The court can defer the proceedings in a criminal 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. This sentence would be highly unusual for someone convicted of the violent crime of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, but is possible if there are extenuating circumstances and the defendant has no criminal history. 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
Assault, battery or assault and battery with a dangerous weapon 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 or the charges reduced. 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.