Sentencing Assault and Battery Punishment, Penalties & Sentencing

  1. The penalties and sentencing guidelines for assault and battery convictions are determined by multiple factors. Each state has its own criminal code which defines the criminal charges and relevant sentencing guidelines. In addition to location of the offense, the unique circumstances surrounding each case will determine whether an assault and battery charge will result in a conviction along and set forth an appropriate punishment. While the law varies between states, there are some general similarities.

    In general, an assault is defined as a person who caused another person to have a reasonable fear that they would suffer a harmful or offensive contact. The crime of battery occurs when a person actually causes another person to suffer a harmful or offensive contact. An example of assault would be one where a defendant waves his fist over his head and verbally threatens to strike the victim. If the victim is actually struck by the defendant, a battery charge would be appropriate. If a verbal threat is followed by an offensive contact, the defendant can be charged with both crimes.

    Criminal Record – Past Crimes

    Punishment for assault and battery convictions can vary and include a monetary fine, jail time or both. Sentences will frequently take into account the defendant’s criminal record. A first time offender will usually receive a more lenient sentence. Those with a previous criminal record or a history of repeated violent offenses may receive a harsher penalty which reflects the serious nature of the crime.

    Severity of the Assault or Battery

    In cases where the offense may be more severe, criminal charges can be raised to a level of “aggravated” assault and battery. Some "aggravating factors" include the level of harm inflicted upon the victim, the defendant's lack of remorse and repeat offenses. An “aggravated” crime is a felony offense in all states, the most serious type of criminal offense. The punishment for a felony assault and battery conviction is one or more years in jail or prison.

    Enhanced Penalties

    Many jurisdictions have enacted enhanced penalties for those who are convicted of crimes against specific classes of persons. This includes public servants (such as police officers, firefighters, school teachers, paramedics and magistrates) as well as family members (especially crimes against children.) Society and the law believe that these classes of people warrant special protection and the punishment for committing such a crime should be more severe. When family members are involved, the offender could be prosecuted under domestic abuse and domestic violence laws.

    Classification of Assault and Battery Crimes

    States will frequently classify assault and battery crimes using different levels of conduct that range from least to most severe. However, the definition of those levels and sentencing laws in each state’s criminal code can vary significantly. An experienced criminal attorney can provide excellent insight into determining the most likely level that would be applicable to the unique facts and circumstances of an assault and battery crime.
    Criminal Law & Procedure:
    Criminal Charges - Assault & Battery

    Michael M. Wechsler

    Michael M. Wechsler
    Michael M. Wechsler is an experienced attorney, founder of TheLaw.com and of-counsel to Kaplan, Williams & Graffeo, LLC. He was also an SVP and chief Internet strategist at Zedge.net and legal consultant at Kroll Ontrack, a leading service e-discovery and computer forensics service provider.

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