Misdemeanor Assault and Battery in South Carolina

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In South Carolina, misdemeanor assault and battery involves causing injury or threatening or attempting to cause injury to another. Assault and battery that causes severe injury or that occurs in the course of certain other criminal conduct is a felony. (S.C. Code Ann. § 16-3-600.)

For more information about felony assault and battery, see South Carolina Felony Assault and Battery.

Assault and Battery in the Third Degree: Actual Injury or Present Ability to Cause Injury

Assault and battery in the third degree occurs when the defendant:

  • injures the victim
  • threatens to injure the victim and has the present ability to cause injury, or
  • attempts to injure the victim and has the present ability to cause injury.

A defendant has the present ability to cause injury when the defendant is armed or when the victim is alone with the defendant or otherwise in a vulnerable position. For example, the victim would be in a vulnerable position if the victim were at a party where the victim did now know anyone and all the other partygoers were friends of the defendant. Generally, any injury to the victim’s body will suffice, even if the injury is slight, but more serious injury may result in more serious charges, as explained below.

(S.C. Code Ann. § 16-3-600)

Assault and Battery in the Second Degree: Moderate Bodily Injury

Assault and battery in the second degree occurs when the defendant injures the victim, or threatens or attempts to injure the victim with the present ability to do so, and the victim sustains moderate bodily injury or could have sustained moderate bodily injury. Moderate bodily injury requires treatment of the internal organs, surgery, or the use of regional or general anesthesia; it is less severe than great bodily injury. For example, a knife wound that required anesthesia or that injured an internal (but non-vital) organ would be a moderate bodily injury.

(S.C. Code Ann. § 16-3-600)

Assault and battery in the second degree also occurs when the defendant touches the victim’s private parts and injures the victim or threatens or attempts to injure the victim (and has the present ability to do so). Private parts include the genitals and buttocks of both sexes and women’s breasts.

(S.C. Code Ann. § 16-3-600)

Deadly Weapon

Assault and battery committed with a deadly weapon is subject to additional punishment, as described below. A deadly weapon is an object that is usually used for the infliction of injury, such as a gun. Certain objects, such as hunting rifles and knives, are only deadly weapons when they are used with the intent to commit a crime. An item that is not usually used to inflict injury, such as a baseball bat, would probably not qualify as a deadly weapon.

(S.C. Code Ann. § 16-23-460)

Punishment

Assault and battery in the third degree is punishable by 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. Assault and battery in the second degree is punishable by up to three years in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.

When a deadly weapon is used, in addition to any other punishment provided by law, the defendant must be sentenced to at least three to twelve months in jail or a fine of at least $200, or both.

(S.C. Code Ann. §§ 16-1-100, 16-3-600, 16-3-610.)

Getting Legal Advice and Representation

Assault and battery can result in up to three years’ jail time, as well as a fine, and a criminal record. If you are charged with assault and battery, you should contact a South Carolina criminal defense attorney who can tell you how your case is likely to be treated by the local judge and prosecutor and help you prepare the best arguments in your defense. An experienced criminal defense attorney will help you achieve the best outcome in your case, whether that is a dismissal of the charges, a negotiated plea, a not guilty verdict, or a reduced sentence following conviction.

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