When one person strikes another, criminal charges may follow. While South Carolina may have self-defense laws on the books, self-defense follows a clearly defined description. Hitting someone out of anger would likely fall under the delineation of battery.
Sometimes, people confuse battery with assault. There is a difference between the two, as suggested by the charge “assault and battery.” Assault and battery refer to two elements that may establish a crime and/or civil tort. Assault indicates an action that puts someone into the “apprehension of an impending battery.” Battery is defined as the harmful contact.
Imagine if someone accidentally spilled a drink in a bar. An offended patron may get up from a chair, get into the person’s face, and yells and screams, intending to punch the person. Seconds later, the belligerent patron hits the other person. The incident reflects assault and battery.
Aggressively approaching, reeling back with one’s hand and threatening to punch someone could constitute an assault. The actual punch would be the battery. If the assailant chooses not to hit someone, but rips his/her shirt instead, this could be battery.
Assault can take place even when not followed by physical battery. Battery can take place even if the victim does not suffer physical harm. Many learn these aspects of the law the hard way. They find out when charged with a crime.
Even misdemeanor assault and battery bring forth a criminal record upon conviction. So anyone accused of a criminal act might benefit from meeting with an attorney. A lawyer can review the merits of the charges and seek anything from a dismissal to a plea bargain. Perhaps an attorney could ask the D.A. to withdraw charges.
An attorney can also keep a client appraised of his/her rights. Hopefully, no rights were violated by law enforcement during the arrest. However, such incidents do happen.