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Assault & Battery in South Carolina

The history of assault and battery in South Carolina saw a number of offenses created over time in common law. In other words, the criminal offense was not set forth in a criminal statute enacted by the legislature, but rather the elements of the offense were pieced together by the State Courts in judicial opinions. For example, the offense of Assault and Battery with Intent to Kill was defined by the South Carolina Supreme Court as the unlawful act of a violent nature to the person of another with malice aforethought, either express or implied.[1]

In 2012, South Carolina enacted a statutory framework for assault and battery offenses.[2] The following are the assault and battery offenses.

ASSAULT AND BATTERY OF A HIGH AND AGGRAVATED NATURE (ABHAN)

ABHAN is committed when a person unlawfully injures another person, and: (a) great bodily injury to another person results; or (b) the act is accomplished by means likely to produce death or great bodily injury. A person who violates this subsection must be imprisoned for not more than twenty years.[3]

ASSAULT AND BATTERY IN THE FIRST DEGREE

Assault and Battery in the First Degree is committed when a person unlawfully:

(a) injures another person, and the act:

(i) involves nonconsensual touching of the private parts of a person, either under or above clothing, with lewd and lascivious intent; or

(ii) occurred during the commission of a robbery, burglary, kidnapping, or theft; or

(b) offers or attempts to injure another person with the present ability to do so, and the act:
(i) is accomplished by means likely to produce death or great bodily injury; or
(ii) occurred during the commission of a robbery, burglary, kidnapping, or theft.

A person who violates this subsection must be imprisoned for not more than ten years.[4]

ASSAULT AND BATTERY IN THE SECOND DEGREE

Assault and Battery in the Second Degree is committed when a person unlawfully: injures another person, or offers or attempts to injure another person with the present ability to do so, and:
(a) moderate bodily injury to another person results or moderate bodily injury to another person could have resulted; or
(b) the act involves the nonconsensual touching of the private parts of a person, either under or above clothing.

A person who violates this subsection must be fined not more than two thousand five hundred dollars, or imprisoned for not more than three years, or both.[5]

ASSAULT AND BATTERY IN THE THIRD DEGREE

Assault and Battery in the Third Degree is committed when a person unlawfully injures another person, or offers or attempts to injure another person with the present ability to do so.

A person who violates this subsection must be fined not more than five hundred dollars, or imprisoned for not more than thirty days, or both.[6]

The statutory law additionally defines three important terms related to the assault and battery offenses.[7]

GREAT BODILY INJURY

Great bodily injury means bodily injury that causes a substantial risk of death or which causes serious, permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member or organ.
MODERATE BODILY INJURY

Moderate bodily injury means physical injury requiring treatment to an organ system of the body other than the skin, muscles, and connective tissues of the body, except when there is penetration of the skin, muscles, and connective tissues that require surgical repair of a complex nature or when treatment of the injuries requires the use of regional or general anesthesia.
PRIVATE PART

Private part means the genital area or buttocks of a male or female or the breasts of a female.

The codification of the assault and battery offenses have helped to clarify the law in South Carolina. However, as with any statutory law, the statute is subject to interpretation by the courts.

Attorney Kirk Truslow's practice focuses solely on criminal defense in State and Federal Courts. In practice for thirty years, Truslow has successfully defended many cases in State and Federal Court, and has served as lead counsel in State and Federal Court jury trials. If you are being investigated or have been charged with a Federal or State Criminal Offense, contact attorney Kirk Truslow at 843.449.3304 or at kirk@attorneytruslow.com.

 

[1] State v. Faust, 325 S.C. 12 (1996).

[2] S.C. Code Ann. §16-3-600

[3] S.C. Code Ann. §16-3-600(B)

[4] S.C. Code Ann. §16-3-600(C)

[5] S.C. Code Ann. §16-3-600(D)

[6] S.C. Code Ann. §16-3-600(E)

[7] S.C. Code Ann. §16-3-600(A)