Protests have become much more frequent and dangerous in the past few years. While Americans have the right to assemble under the First Amendment, that hasn’t stopped demonstrations from becoming violent with injuries on both the protester and law enforcement sides.
If you took part in a violent demonstration, you could face an assault and battery charge if you’re brought into custody. What are the penalties you face if you’re convicted?
Penalties for assault and battery by a mob
In South Carolina, there are three degrees of assault and battery by a mob. The higher the degree, the more severe the penalties:
- First degree: If the violence inflicted by the mob resulted in a person’s death, and the accused was a member of the mob. This is an exempt felony, and the penalty for conviction is a minimum 30-year prison sentence.
- Second degree: If the mob’s violence led to serious bodily injury of another, and the accused was a mob member, they’ll face a second-degree charge. This is a Class B felony; a conviction can lead to jail time of not less than three years but not more than 25 years.
- Third degree: This is a Class C misdemeanor if the mob’s violence led to bodily injury. The accused can face jail time of up to one year if convicted.
State law defines a mob as an assembly of at least two people gathered for the premeditated purpose and intent to harm another. Not all demonstrations can be classified as mobs, but some protests decrying specific individuals or groups of people can become mobs once violence is involved.
Assault charges for being part of a violent mob can lead to lengthy prison sentences, especially if the aggression results in death. Even if you didn’t strike the fatal blow, a court can still charge you as part of the group. Consider consulting a legal professional to understand your defense options if the case goes to court.