Understanding assault charges and their penalties
Assault refers to attempting to cause, or causing, physical harm to another individual. A person can face assault charges even if there was no physical contact and resulting injuries.
Because the level of damage can vary, there are different types of assault charges. Each one comes with its own set of potential penalties.
Types of charges
Not all assault charges are the same. According to the South Carolina Legislature, charges can be a misdemeanor or a felony, and they range in degree severity. Assault in the third degree, also referred to as simple assault, is a misdemeanor and involves the threat of violence or violence that results in minor injuries.
Assault in the second degree involves violence that results in moderate injuries, or the threat thereof, and it is also a misdemeanor. Assault in the first degree is a felony and involves intentionally-caused great bodily injury or injury caused during a kidnapping, theft, burglary or robbery. Aggravated assault, also a lesser-included attempted murder offense, refers to great bodily harm that occurs in a manner that could likely cause death.
Penalties for each assault charge
Because the severity of each charge varies, there are different penalties associated with the conviction of each type:
- Third-degree assault: Fine of up to $500, jail time of up to 30 days or both
- Second-degree assault: Fine of up to $2,500, jail time of up to three years or both
- First-degree assault: Prison time of up to 10 years
- Aggravated assault: Prison time of up to 20 years
Attempted murder sometimes falls under assault. A conviction for this results in a penalty of up to 30 years in prison.