Depending on the facts surrounding the offense, someone can be charged with either assault, battery, or assault and battery in Oklahoma. Here's a breakdown of the differences between the three crimes.
Assault. Under Oklahoma law, someone who threatens or attempts to cause physical harm to another person is guilty of assault. Threatening words alone aren't enough: The offender also must take some menacing action such as drawing a fist or charging toward the victim.
Battery. Battery is the intentional use of force against another person, which causes harm or offense to the victim. Hitting someone or spitting on them are both acts that constitute battery.
Assault and Battery. Someone is guilty of "assault and battery" when their assault results in a battery. For example, threatening with a raised fist to hit someone is an assault. But if the person actually follows through and punches the victim after making the threat, they can be charged with assault and battery.
(Okla. Stat. tit. 21, §§ 641, 642 (2023).)
Assault or battery committed against certain categories of people make the crime more serious.
Assault and battery offenses committed against particular types of victims can increase the punishment for the crime. These special victims include:
Assault or battery against some special victims, such as medical care providers, also requires an intent to injure rather than just an intent to use force.
Assault or battery offenses committed against a spouse, family member, or someone you're dating are considered domestic abuse and subject to higher penalties than general assault and battery. For more information about domestic abuse laws, see Domestic Violence Laws in Oklahoma.
The crime of assault and battery is aggravated (more serious) if:
Great bodily injury includes:
(Okla. Stat. tit. 21, § 646 (2023).)
Assault, battery, or assault and battery with a dangerous weapon results when the defendant uses a "sharp or dangerous weapon," during the crime and intends to cause physical harm.
A dangerous weapon (also called a deadly weapon) is anything designed to inflict life-threatening or great bodily injury, or is used in a manner that could cause such injury. To be a dangerous weapon, the object must be capable of causing great bodily injury.
Firearms and knives are deadly weapons by definition. But a large rock, steel-toed boots, or a baseball bat can be deadly weapons if used in a way that could cause great bodily injury.
(Okla. Stat. tit. 21, § 645 (2023).)
The punishment for assault and battery offenses varies depending on the seriousness of the offense. Here are some of the penalties for various types of assault, battery, and assault and battery.
When an assault isn't committed against a special victim and doesn't involve a dangerous weapon, it's a misdemeanor that carries up to thirty days in jail or a $500 fine, or both. When it's a battery or assault and battery that doesn't involve serious injury, it's punishable by up to ninety days, and the maximum fine increases to $1,000.
When an assault involves special victims like officers, school employees, court officers, and others, it's still a misdemeanor, but it carries more possible jail time—up to a year for some categories of victims. The fine also varies depending on who the victim is. Assaults against other special victims, such as corrections officers, are felonies when committed by inmates.
Assault, battery, or assault and battery involving deadly weapons can be punished by as much as 10 years in prison. In less serious cases, the judge can instead choose up to one year in jail.
Aggravated assault and battery is generally a felony punishable by up to five years. But when it involves certain victims, the penalties are harsher and can vary significantly depending on who the victim is. For example, when the victim is a medical care provider, the penalty is still up to five years, but the judge must impose at least two years. And if the victim is a police officer, the defendant can get life in prison.
Depending on the type of offense and the facts of the case, a court might also impose additional fines, put the defendant on probation, and order other sentencing alternatives. The court can also make the defendant pay victim restitution.
(Okla. Stat. tit. 21, §§ 644, 649, 650, 650.2, 650.5, 650.6, 650.7 (2023).)
If you're charged with assault, battery, or any other crime, you should contact an Oklahoma criminal defense attorney immediately. An experienced lawyer can advise you on the strength of the case and any possible defenses. And a lawyer who's familiar with the local criminal court system and cases like yours should know whether a good plea deal is possible or if you should instead consider going to trial.