Assault and battery charges are one of the more common criminal charges related to an act of violence. However, these charges are serious and can lead to harsh criminal penalties, like jail time. If you have been charged with assault or battery in Athens, GA, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney fighting at your side.
People often use the terms “assault” and battery interchangeably or in tandem. However, they are actually two distinct criminal acts. It is possible for a person to commit assault, battery, or both assault and battery.
A battery, for example, occurs when one person causes bodily harm to another person. In order for a battery to be deemed a criminal act, there must be what is known as mens rea, or criminal intent. In other words, the person initiating violence must act intentionally or knowingly and without any sort of legal justification.
An assault, on the other hand, occurs when someone engages in conduct that places another in reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery. To be charged with assault, it does not matter whether or not physical harm was actually inflicted on the victim. The act of threatening harm is itself a criminal offense. An assault can lead to more serious criminal penalties if it is perpetrated with the use of a weapon, for example.
It is possible for someone to be charged with both assault and battery stemming from the same behavior. For instance, if someone communicated a threat of harm by words or behavior to a victim, then actually inflicted that harm, then they could be charged with both criminal offenses.
Assault or battery charges can be elevated to aggravated status, depending on the surrounding circumstances. Aggravated assault is an assault that is committed (1) with the intent to rob, rape, or murder, (2) with a deadly weapon, or (3) by discharging a firearm from a vehicle. Aggravated battery occurs when the offender intentionally inflicts a serious injury, such as a broken bone, a coma, permanent disfigurement, or the loss of a limb.
In Georgia, assault charges and battery charges can be considered either misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the facts of the case.
A Simple Assault, for example, is considered a misdemeanor with penalties of up to one year in jail, fines, and/or probation. Aggravated Assault, on the other hand, is treated as a felony and carries penalties of up to twenty years in prison and a fine of up to $100,0000.
Simple Battery is also a misdemeanor with penalties of up to one year in jail, fines, and/or probation. Aggravated Battery is a felony charge that carries penalties of one to twenty years in prison minimum and a fine of up to $100,0000.
Even simple charges can be elevated to a "high" misdemeanor offense depending on the circumstances, making the punishments more severe. In addition, repeat offenders (those with one or more felony convictions) can be required to serve the maximum sentence for aggravated assault or battery based on their prior convictions.
In addition to fines, jail time, and probation, offenders convicted of assault or battery in Georgia may also be ordered to pay restitution to their victims. Restitution reimburses assault and battery victims for any expenses resulting from the crime. This could include medical treatment, for example.
A criminal conviction can have serious ramifications for your personal and professional life. Whether you were caught up in a barroom brawl or are culpable of a more serious offense, you should protect yourself and your future prospects by hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Ryan J. Swingle is a practicing criminal defense attorney with over 20 years of experience successfully fighting for clients throughout the State of Georgia. The first step to getting the help you need is scheduling an initial consultation. Get started today and let our law firm help you build the best defense possible.
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