Rhode Island recognizes misdemeanor simple battery, which involves physically touching someone else without permission; and misdemeanor simple assault, which is any attempted battery, or any threat of force.
Simple battery is any offensive or unwanted touching, such as a slap or a pinch. For a battery to occur, there must be physical contact with the victim, although the victim need not sustain injury.
Simple assault is any threatened use of force, whether verbal or physical. For example, yelling at a couple that you will kill them is simple assault. Trying to hit someone is also simple assault. Assault does not require an injury or physical contact with the victim.
(R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-5-3)
Assault (or battery) with a dangerous weapon or that results in serious bodily injury is felony assault. For information, please see Felony Assault in Rhode Island.
Simple assault or battery is punishable by up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000. (R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-5-3.)
Rhode Island provides for special penalties when a misdemeanor assault or battery also qualifies as domestic violence. Domestic violence is violent crime between family and household members, including spouses, former spouses, people related by blood or marriage, people who live together, people who have children together, and people who have dated one another.
For all domestic violence convictions, the defendant must participate in a batterer’s intervention program, at the defendant’s expense, and pay a $125 special fine. For a second misdemeanor domestic violence conviction, the defendant must serve between ten days and one year in jail. Third or subsequent misdemeanor convictions will be considered felony convictions and are punishable by one to ten years in prison.
(R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 11-5-2, 12-29-2, 12-29-5)
Getting Legal Advice and Representation
A criminal conviction for simple battery or assault can result in jail time and a fine. There is also the possibility that the charges could be dismissed, that you could plead to a lesser charge, or that you could obtain a not guilty verdict. The outcome will depend upon the facts of the case and how the assigned judge and prosecutor handle such cases. If you are charged with simple battery or assault, you should contact a Rhode Island criminal defense attorney who can tell you how your case is likely to be handled and help you begin to prepare your best defense.