When you face assault charges, you may wonder what your options are and how to defend yourself. Assault is a serious crime that can have severe consequences, such as jail time, fines and a criminal record. However, there are ways to fight assault charges and protect your rights.
What is assault and battery in West Virginia?
According to West Virginia law, assault is the attempt to cause violent injury to another person or the act of causing another person to fear imminent violence by threats, words or actions. Battery is the unlawful and intentional physical contact that is insulting, provoking or causes physical harm.
For example, if you swing a fist at someone, but miss, you could be charged with assault. If you hit someone with your fist, you could be charged with battery. Both assault and battery are usually misdemeanors in West Virginia, unless there are aggravating factors, such as serious injury, use of a weapon or special victims.
What are the penalties?
The penalties for assault and battery depend on the severity of the offense and the circumstances of the case. For assault, the penalty is up to 6 months in jail, a fine up to $100 or both. For battery, it is up to 12 months in jail, a fine up to $500 or both.
Of course, there are other types of assaults and battery, like an assault or battery against a government representative, healthcare worker or an emergency service personnel. A second or third offense of assault or battery increases penalties, as does a malicious assault, unlawful assault or domestic assault or battery.
What are the defenses?
If you are accused of assault or battery in West Virginia, you may have several defenses available depending on the facts of your case. This includes self-defense, a claim that you acted reasonably and proportionally to protect yourself or someone else from an imminent threat of harm. Another is the defense of property, which is a defense that you acted reasonably and proportionally to protect your property or someone else’s property from an imminent threat of harm.
Another defense is consent, which is where you allege the purported victim consented to the physical contact or the risk of physical contact. Alternatively, you can claim that you lacked intent, which means that you did not act intentionally or knowingly to cause harm or fear of harm. Or, that you have an alibi. Finally, you can claim that you were legally insane at the time of the offense and that you did not know right from wrong or understand the consequences of your actions.