If you get into a drunken bar fight and punch someone in the nose, you may be charged with criminal assault. If you touch someone sexually without their consent, you may be accused of assault. If you threaten to blow up someone’s house, you could be brought up on assault charges.
Depending on the circumstances and the level of severity of the act, assault charges can result in imprisonment and hefty fines. If these charges appear on your record, this could affect your future employment, government service, and financial prospects.
Here are four important facts you need to know if you are facing assault charges.
1. You Don’t Need to Touch Someone to Be Charged with Assault
South Carolina defines the offense of assault as when you injure or attempt to injure another person. If the other person reasonably feared that you were going to harm them, you may be charged with assault even if you did not lay a hand on them.
Threatening someone with bodily harm constitutes assault.
If you threaten someone while you are committing another crime, that will raise assault charges to the level of a felony. A felony assault charge carries a maximum penalty of up to ten years in prison.
2. Sexual Assault is Broadly Defined
Since the rise of the #Metoo movement, sexual assault has been in the news a lot.
Sexual assault is not the same as sexual harassment, a term commonly used in employment situations where a woman is treated poorly or asked to trade sexual favors for job benefits.
Sexual assault is generally considered to be unwanted touching such as groping, kissing or other sexual actions without consent.
However, the important element to the sexual assault charge, like any assault charge, is the perceived threat to the victim. If a woman is placed in a situation where she fears bodily harm in the form of a sexual attack, she may have a cause of action if her belief is reasonable and the accused was in the position to carry out that threat.
Again, actual touching may not be necessary.
Because sexual assault is an especially hot topic right now if you are charged with sexual assault you should contact a criminal defense attorney immediately.
3. There May Be Mitigating Circumstances
There are many complicated situations which can suddenly explode and lead to charges of assault. The laws take this into account by assigning different levels of seriousness to
Assaults committed during the commission of another crime are considered especially serious. So are assaults where someone intended to kill someone or plotted to hurt them well in advance.
Crimes of passion where people were intoxicated, in a relationship or in a crowd are looked at differently.
While being drunk or upset is not an excuse, a lawyer may use these circumstances to argue that your charge is less serious than premeditated attacks and that you deserve a reduced sentence.
Hitting someone who hit you first, or lashing out after having been bullied and threatened for months are both examples of situations where there are extenuating circumstances which might affect the judge’s final ruling.
4. You Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer if You are Charged with Assault
No matter what the circumstances, if you are facing assault charges you need to take it seriously and contact an attorney right away. A criminal defense attorney will review your individual situation and advise on the best way to proceed.
For more information, contact us.