Columbia Assault Criminal Defense Lawyer

Facing assault charges in South Carolina is a scary experience. You face the loss of your freedom and possible damage to your reputation. You likely have many questions. Attorney Freddy Woods is frequently contacted by people facing serious criminal charges. Here are the most common questions he receives about assault charges and their answers. If you still have questions after reading this information or would like to secure his legal services to defend yourself against assault charges in South Carolina, contact the Woods Law Firm for a confidential consultation.     

1.      Is Assault and Battery in South Carolina Classified as a Felony or Misdemeanor?

There are four different levels of assault charges in South Carolina. Assault and battery in the third degree is considered a misdemeanor. Likewise, assault and battery in the second degree is considered a misdemeanor. However, assault and battery in the first degree and assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature are considered felony offenses in South Carolina.

2.      How Is Assault and Battery Defined Under South Carolina Law?

All four different laws regarding assault in South Carolina describe assault as causing an unlawful injury to another individual or attempting to injure another individual, under S.C. Code Ann. § 16-3-600. Each offense is defined differently, as follows:

  • Assault and battery in the third degree – A person unlawfully injures or attempts to injure another individual with the current physical ability to injure that person.
  • Assault and battery in the second degree – A person unlawfully injures or attempts to injure another individual with the current ability to do so and moderate bodily injury to the victim did or could have resulted. Alternatively, this crime can be charged when a person touched another person in a sexual manner that was nonconsensual.
  • Assault and battery in the first degree – There are several definitions for this particular crime. One definition is when a person unlawfully injures another individual in a way that involves sexual touching. Another definition is when a person unlawfully injures another individual while committing the crime of robbery, burglary, theft or kidnapping. Finally, if a person attempts to injure someone else with the current ability to do so and takes such action that is likely to result in great bodily injury or death or that happened while committing robbery, burglary, theft or kidnapping.
  • Assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature – A person unlawfully injures another individual and causes great bodily injury to another individual or uses such actions that are likely to cause great bodily injury or death.

3.      What Are the Possible Penalties for Assault?

The possible penalties for assault and battery in South Carolina depend on the crime that is charged.

Assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years.

Conviction for first degree assault and battery can result in imprisonment up to ten years.

Conviction for second degree assault and battery can result in imprisonment up to three years and a fine up to $2,500.

Conviction of third degree assault and battery carries a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a fine of $500.

These crimes may be lesser included offenses to attempted murder or other crimes, so you may face additional charges and penalties when you are charged with any of these offenses.

4.      Where Are Assault Cases Heard in South Carolina?

South Carolina has 46 counties. Greenville County, Richland County and Charleston County are the three largest counties in the state. Assault and battery cases are criminal cases that may be tried in courts that hear felony or misdemeanor cases. In South Carolina, the circuit court in the county where you are charged with the offense hears the case for felony cases. These courts are called General Sessions.  Municipal courts or summary courts hear misdemeanor cases.

The main courthouses that deal with assault and battery charges in South Carolina for the three largest counties in South Carolina are listed below.

Greenville County

Greenville County Circuit Court

305 E. North Street

Greenville, SC 29601

(864) 467-8551

Judges: Perry H. Gravely, D. Garrison Hill, Robin B. Stilwell, Letitia H. Verdin

Court Clerk: Paul B. Wickensimer

Court hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday – Friday

Greenville Municipal Court

426 N. Main Street

Greenville, SC 29601

Phone: (864) 467-6650

List of Greenville County Municipal Judges

Court Clerk: Pam Larson

Court Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Greenville Magistrate Court Map

 

Richland County

Richland County Circuit Court

1701 Main St.

Columbia, South Carolina 29201

(803) 576-1950

Chief Justice: Jean Hoefer Toal (retired)

Court clerk: Jeannette McBride

Court hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday – Friday

Richland County Magistrate Court

Central Court

2500 Decker Blvd.

Columbia, SC 29206

Phone: (803) 576-2300

Judge: Benjamin Franklin Byrd

Court Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Upper Township Magistrate

400 Northeast Dr. Suite I

Columbia, SC 29203

Phone: (803) 576-2570

Chief Magistrate: Judge Tomothy Clinton Edward

Court Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

 

Charleston County

Charleston County Circuit Court

100 Broad St.

Suite 106

Charleston, South Carolina 29401

(843) 958-5000

Judges: Deadra L. Jefferson, Roger M. Young, Sr.

Court clerk: Julie J. Armstrong

Court hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday – Friday 

Charleston Municipal Court

180 Lockwood Blvd.

Charleston, SC 29403

Phone: (843) 724-7460

List of Charleston Municipal Court Judges

Court Director: Lakesiya L. Cofield

Court Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Charleston County Magistrate Courts

Lonnie Hamilton, III Public Service Building

4045 Bridge View Drive, Suite B143

North Charleston, SC 29405

Phone: (843) 202-6600

List of Charleston County Magistrates

Court Hours: 8l30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

5.      What are Possible Defenses to Assault and Battery in South Carolina?

There may be a number of legal defenses that you can assert when facing charges for assault in South Carolina. Because you have the benefit of the presumption of innocence, it is the government's job to prove your guilt. Defenses may include showing that your conduct did not meet the legal definition of the crime, such as:

  • You did not have the current ability to act – In situations when you are charged with the crime of assault and battery based on your threat to cause harm, it is a possible defense if you were unable to cause the harm you threatened based on the specific circumstances.
  • You did not cause the required degree of harm – Even if you did cause injury to the victim, you may not have hurt him or her enough to meet the definition of the felony categories. For example, second degree assault and battery in South Carolina requires “moderate bodily harm,” such as a fracture, disfigurement, prolonged loss of consciousness or the temporary loss of the use of a bodily organ. If the injury was a bruise, cut or other minor injury, the prosecutor may not be able to prove you committed all elements of the crime.
  • You did not touch the person in the way described under the law – If you are charged with assault and battery because of nonconsensual sexual touching, the prosecutor has to prove you met this definition. This involves showing that you touched the genitals of the person above or under clothing or the breasts of a female in a lewd and lascivious manner.

Another common defense to assault and battery charges is self-defense. You have the right to protect yourself, your family and your property, so if these things were threatened, you may have a viable defense against these charges. Other possible defenses include challenging the credibility of government witnesses and questioning the validity of evidence.

6.      How Else Can Assault Charges Affect My Life?

Being convicted of assault in South Carolina can result in serious, lifetime consequences. In addition to facing possible imprisonment, you may also be charged expensive fines. You can acquire a criminal record that affects the rest of your life and impact whether you are employed at certain locations, where you can live and whether you will be approved for different benefits. Having an assault conviction on your record may also damage your reputation and make you appear like a violent person, even if you were not the one who initiated the incident or you tried to peacefully leave the scene. If you are embroiled in a custody dispute, an assault conviction may affect the outcome of this case or how much access you have to your own children.

7.      How Can a South Carolina Criminal Defense Lawyer Help Me?

If you are charged with assault and battery in South Carolina, it is important that you consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can review your situation, discuss the charges against you and identify the defenses that are available to you. Attorney Freddy Woods will get to work immediately on your case and look for ways to procure an early dismissal or to mitigate the charges against you. It is not uncommon for prosecutors to unnecessarily increase charges against defendants. If this has happened to you, Mr. Woods can determine if the felony charges you are facing should be downgraded to misdemeanor charges. He may be able to help you achieve a favorable plea bargain that reduces your charges or results in a lighter sentence. Mr. Woods will help you minimize the impact of being charged with assault and battery in South Carolina. Contact the Woods Law Firm to schedule a confidential consultation with an attorney with more than 20 years of aggressive legal practice. 

GREENVILLE OFFICE (MAIN OFFICE)

955 West Wade Hampton Blvd, Unit 10B
Greer, SC 29650
Phone: 864.298.8111
Fax: 864.752.9300

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COLUMBIA OFFICE

(by appointment only)
(files principally handled at the main office)

3501 North Main Street
Columbia, SC 29203
Phone: 803.233.1828
Fax: 864.752.9300

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BEAUFORT OFFICE

(by appointment only)
(files principally handled at the main office)

28 Old Jericho Road Suite 200
Beaufort, SC 29906
Phone: 843.492.7730
Fax: 864.752.9300

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