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Assault and Battery

Rhode Island – Assault and Battery

If you have been charged with Assault and Battery please call or email me as soon as possible. Like nearly every other type of criminal charge, it is critical to be proactive and take some action to defend yourself before your next court date.

Under Rhode Island law Assault and Battery can be either a: (1) misdemeanor or (2) felony. Whether an Assault and Battery is a misdemeanor or a felony depends upon the alleged facts of the case.

Misdemeanor Assault and Battery if often called Simple Assault and Battery. It is important to note however, that even if the alleged Assault and Battery would otherwise be a misdemeanor offense it can be converted into a felony offense if it is charged in conjunction with a Domestic Violence allegation.

If the Assault and Battery accusation is coupled with a Domestic Violence allegation, and the individual has two (2) or more prior Domestic Violence convictions, (even if those convictions were not for Assault and Battery), then the Simple Assault and Battery charge can be charged as a felony. This means that the possibility of going to prison for at least one (1) year is very, very real.

The consequences of an Assault and Battery conviction can be harsh, especially in the context of a Domestic Violence charge, so it is critical to at least speak with a competent criminal defense attorney who can assist you. Like most other criminal charges, you do not want to handle this type of case alone because a conviction for this can have both short and long term permanent consequences.

Simple Assault and Battery

The words Assault and Battery are often used interchangeably, but in fact have two (2) different meanings.

Under Rhode Island law an Assault is defined as any unlawful attempt or offer, with force or violence, to do bodily harm to another, whether from wantoness or malice. It is a physical act of a threatening nature intended to inflict a bodily injury. The alleged victim of the Assault has to be placed in reasonable fear of imminent physical harm.

Under Rhode Island law a Battery is defined as an act that causes either harmful or offensive contact with another person, without that person’s consent.

Based on the foregoing, a Battery is considered to be the resulting consummation of the Assault.

In a layman’s terms, if someone takes a swing at another person and misses because the other person ducks, the person who took the swing would be guilty of an Assault. If the person taking the swing actually makes contact, he would be guilty of a Battery.

The penalty for Simple Assault and Simple Battery is up to one (1) year to serve in prison and up to a one thousand dollar ($1,000.00) fine.

Assault and Battery upon a Police Officer

By statutory definition, Assault and Battery upon a police officer is supposed to be charged as a felony. However, in practice, it is almost always charged as a misdemeanor. Consequently, it is treated as a Simple Assault and Battery as just defined.

Felony Assault and Battery

A Felony Assault and Battery, for the most part, is the same thing as a Simple Assault and Battery. The significant difference is that a Felony Assault and Battery results in serious bodily injury to the alleged victim.

Serious bodily injury is statutorily defined as any physical injury that creates a substantial risk of death, protracted loss or impairment of a body part, member or organ or an injury that causes serious permanent disfigurement.

The penalty for Felony Assault and Battery is imprisonment for up to twenty (20) years.

Defenses for Assault and Battery – Self Defense

In my experience the most effective defense to a charge of Assault and Battery is that the accused was acting in self defense.

Under Rhode Island law self defense is defined as the justifiable repelling of force by another, with as much force as is reasonable necessary under the circumstances. In order to use the defense of self defense, the accused has to establish, under the circumstances, that he reasonably believed that he was in imminent danger.

The accused cannot be the aggressor in the incident, but can strike the first blow. This is because under Rhode Island law, one does not have to wait for the first blow to be struck. The accused can actually deliver the first blow and still use the defense of self defense as long as the accused can establish the reasonableness of his fear of imminent bodily harm.

The great aspect about the defense of self defense is that once the defendant puts forth reasonable evidence of self defense, it is then up to the prosecution to disprove the theory of self defense beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that the prosecution would have to, in essence, climb the mountain a second time.

Lastly, the defense of self defense applies equally to cases involving police officers as it does in cases involving civilians.