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When does a fight escalate to the crime of assault or battery?

| Apr 5, 2021 | Criminal Defense

Sometimes arguments between people become heated, and it is not long before one person is accusing the other of trying to hurt them or actually hurts them. If so, this could lead to charges of either assault or battery, depending on the circumstances. The following is a brief overview of these two crimes under West Virginia law, but as always, this post is for educational purposes only and does not contain legal advice.

What is assault?

Under West Virginia law, a person commits assault if they attempt to violently injure someone or if they do something that puts another person in reasonable apprehension of being violently injured. Assault is a misdemeanor crime in West Virginia. The penalties for assault include a jail sentence of up to six months and/or a fine of up to $100.

What is battery?

Under West Virginia law, a person commits battery if they intentionally physically contact another in a way that is insulting, provoking or physically harmful.  Battery is a misdemeanor crime in West Virginia. The penalties for battery include a jail sentence of up to 12 months and/or a fine of up to $500.

Malicious or unlawful assault

Malicious of unlawful assault is a more serious crime than simple assault or battery. If a person, with malice, causes another person to suffer bodily injury with the intention of disfigure, disable or kill, that person has committed malicious assault. This is a felony crime, punishable by a prison sentence of two to 10 years. If the act is done intentionally but without malice, it constitutes unlawful assault. This is a felony crime, punishable by a prison sentence of one to five years, or a jail sentence of up to 12 months and a fine of up to $500.

Learn more about violent crimes in West Virginia

Any assault or battery conviction can have a negative impact not just in the now, but in the future as well. It is important to develop a strong defense strategy if you are accused of these crimes. Our firm’s webpage on criminal law may be a useful resource for those who want to learn more about this topic.