If you are facing charges of assault and battery, you may be confused. After all, perhaps you are far from the kind of person who drinks too much and stirs up a fight in a bar. Furthermore, when you think back on the incident in question, you may have no recollection of hurting or even putting your hands on anyone.

You may be surprised to learn that the charges of assault and battery may still stick under these circumstances. The penalties for a conviction can be quite severe, and the potential collateral consequences may be enough to derail your future.

Understanding the charges

An assault charge may stem from an incident in which you said or did something that caused another person to feel threatened. You may not have hurt or even touched the other person, but your actions or words made him or her believe that you intended to cause harm and that you were capable of it.

Once you touch another person, however, you risk more severe charges. Battery is the element of the charge that involves physical contact. You may have bumped someone, shoved or taken a swing but caused no injury. Nevertheless, you may face charges of assault and battery.

Harsher penalties

Of course, as with most criminal charges, the more serious the outcome, the more serious the charges. For a tussle or brawl that leaves the other person with only cuts and bruises, you may be looking at misdemeanor charges. However, if the physical contact left the other person with broken bones or other injuries that required medical attention, you may be facing assault and battery charges of a higher degree, perhaps even a felony.

The presence or use of a weapon during a verbal or physical altercation changes everything. If you had a knife, a gun or perhaps a deadly chemical in your possession at the time, authorities may charge you with aggravated assault. The same is true if the person who claims to be the victim of your assault was a police officer or a member of another special class.

Building a defense

A conviction for assault and battery may result in life-altering consequences, including months or years behind bars, significant fines and a permanent mark on your record. You may think your case is easy to defend, especially if you believe your actions do not fit the definition of the charges. However, when facing any criminal charges, especially those of a violent nature, you have too much at stake to handle the legal process without the assistance of a skilled and experienced South Carolina attorney.