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Assault and battery charges are on the rise. In 2018, 3.3 million Americans were victims of violent crime.
Assault and battery charges are important tools to keep Americans safe, but they aren’t perfect. An innocent person can get charged with them, or they can be an overreaction to a minor conflict.
Many people feel helpless after they get assault charges, but they shouldn’t. You can defeat your charges as long as you know what the facts are.
Here is your guide to assault and battery charges.
Understanding Your Assault and Battery Charges
Assault and battery charges are often grouped together. However, each has a distinct legal definition with separate criminal penalties. Read your local laws to get specific definitions, but there are some general facts that you can keep in mind.
Assault is a threat of harm accompanied by the ability to carry out the threat. The survivor of the assault must believe that they are in imminent danger of being hurt. Contact does not have to take place.
Throwing an object at someone can count as assault, even if the object misses. A threat of and attempt at physical violence was made. Spitting on someone can also count, even if the act did not seriously injure them.
Battery is an act that causes harmful physical contact with another person. That person must not consent to the contact.
You can receive a battery charge independently of an assault. If someone strikes someone else without issuing a threat, that person may receive a single battery charge. But more often than not, a person receives both charges.
You may hear the term “first offense assault and battery.” Prosecutors distinguish between first-time offenders and repeat offenders when discussing sentences. Repeat offenders usually serve time in prison, while first-time offenders may not.
You may also hear the term “first-degree assault.” Some states distinguish amongst assaults based on the nature of the conduct.
In general, first-degree assault involves a serious injury and a deadly weapon, like a gun. Second-degree assault involves a serious injury. Third-degree assault involves injuries that the defendant recklessly caused without intent to harm.
The First Steps
If you know someone has called 911 on you, do not flee the scene. Sit down, empty out your pockets, and remain calm.
When the police arrive, lie down with both hands flat on the ground. Do not make any sudden movements.
When the police ask you questions, invoke your right to remain silent. Say, “I wish to assert my constitutional right to remain silent.” The police can interrogate and use evidence against you if you are not explicit.
Do not sign any documents or consent to any searches of your person. Call an attorney as soon as you get a chance to. Do not talk to the police until your attorney is present.
When they do, consult with them. You can tell them your side of the story, and they cannot tell anyone else. Feel free to provide whatever details will help your defense.
When you get charged with assault, you will get arrested and processed. You may or may not be able to get bail.
Prepare yourself to stay in jail. Do not violate any rules or protocols. Remain in contact with your attorney.
If you are out on bail, try to live as normal a life as possible. Go to work and touch base with your social circle.
Do not contact the person accusing you of assault. Do not contact any of their friends or family. The court may issue a no-contact order, but you should not reach out to them regardless.
How to Beat Assault and Battery Charges
You may be faced with criminal and civil cases. In a criminal case, prosecutors must prove you were guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
In a civil case, the burden of proof is based on a preponderance of the evidence. You will be found guilty if there is a greater than 50 percent chance that you are guilty.
Prior to your trial, the prosecutor may extend a plea deal to you. They may offer reduced sentences or reduced charges.
Consider your options before you sign onto a deal. Many prosecutors make one because their cases are weak. If you think that is the case, refuse it.
During your trial, you and the person accusing you will likely testify. Practice your testimony with your attorney. Go over every question that the prosecutor may ask you.
Make sure your attorney practices cross-examining the person accusing you. They should be even-keeled. If they are too aggressive, they risk alienating the jury.
You can find expert witnesses who will dispute the prosecutor’s evidence. This is especially important for medical information. They can argue that injuries did not come from an assault.
You can also find character witnesses who will speak about you. They can testify that you would never commit an assault. They could also assert that the person accusing you would make up an assault.
You may be acquitted in criminal court but convicted in civil court. Take time preparing for both cases.
If you are convicted, you can appeal. Talk to your assault and battery attorney about your next steps.
Defeating Assault and Battery Charges
Assault and battery charges are complicated. Assault is a threat of physical violence. Battery is the actual physical violence.
However, you can get an acquittal for both. Give the police no information to work off of. Contact an attorney right away and work together on your defense.
Work on your testimony and find witnesses who can challenge the prosecution. Prepare for a civil trial in addition to a criminal one. Consider an appeal if you are convicted.
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