In legal terminology, a crime is an act, or omission of an act, that violates a public law forbidding or commanding it to be done.
According to federal and state laws, crimes can be categorized based on their severity and the time period of imprisonment. Felonies are crimes that are punishable by imprisonment for a year or more, and misdemeanors are crimes punishable by less than a year. In some states, misdemeanors are crimes that are punishable only by fine, or a short time in jail.
Assault or attempted battery is said to have occurred when a person senses a threat of immediate harm or physical attack from another person that may cause the former injury. An aggravated form of assault or battery is said to be committed when one tries to attack/harm another person using a weapon.
Assault and battery may be distinct crimes in many states, wherein assault is a lesser intent form of battery, and the defendant may be held in contempt for one of these crimes.
In the case of a criminal act, the police will not arrest and charge someone based solely on the victim’s claims. They need to gather relevant evidence that can be presented to the prosecutor to charge the person with the crime.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind if you are charged with alleged assault or battery.
1. Gather Relevant Evidence/Witnesses
It is important to handle this situation with calmness, as hasty decisions can worsen it. You need to bear in mind that you are not guilty unless proven in court. Hence, you should try your best to prove your innocence. You can always choose to not make oral/written statements to law enforcement authorities, as they can use anything said by you against you in court.
If the alleged assault took place in the presence of witnesses, try to contact them to speak in your favor. Record their names and contact details, and provide this information to the police department. Try to do this early, while the incident is still fresh in their memories.
2. Consult a Criminal Law Attorney
You can consult a lawyer who has dealt with criminal lawsuits and is experienced in handling assault and battery cases. It is important that you avoid communicating with the police directly, and get a criminal lawyer from your state to represent you, as he/she would be aware of the specific state laws that can protect your criminal record.
Whether it is a trivial misdemeanor or a serious battery charge, it is advisable that you hire an attorney to help you through the case. If the victim’s lawyer is successful at proving your guilt, then it can lead you to pay hefty fines and/or face jail time.
3. Prepare for Preliminary Trial
There may be chances that a grand jury is called to decide whether or not charges should be brought against you. The prosecutor handling your case will present your side of the story, the evidence, and the arguments to the jury.
If your actions are considered to be a felony, and the prosecutor bypasses a grand jury to file charges, then a preliminary hearing may be held. This is when your attorney needs to present arguments that can show your innocence in front of the judge.
4. Introduce Reasonable Doubt of Guilt
At the preliminary hearing, it is the prosecutor’s role to prove to the judge or jury that there is reasonable doubt of guilt. Reasonable doubt can be introduced if the evidence presented is not convincing enough to prove that you committed the crime.
Your attorney needs to present counter-arguments and evidence so that the slightest degree of reasonable doubt can be proven, which can lead to the judge ruling in your favor and declaring you innocent.
One of the possible strategies to defend yourself in a criminal case could be presenting an alibi witness, wherein a written document or a witness’s testimonial is presented in court that vouches for your presence at another location at the time of the alleged assault/battery, and proves that you could not have assaulted the victim. Presenting an alibi in court can point out a flaw in the prosecutor’s argument, and create a reasonable doubt of your guilt.
Know Your Rights When Charged With Assault or Battery
Assault and battery are serious criminal charges that can be added to your criminal record and, greatly impact your life. You may face a prison sentence and be convicted as a felon. Several consequences continue to have bearings on the life of a felon even after being released from prison. It is, therefore, essential to handle such charges with utmost seriousness and hire a legal expert to represent you. The above tips can help you know more about dealing with assault and battery charges in a sensible manner.
Guest post by:
Stanley Foster is associated with the marketing division of New Mexico Criminal Law Offices, based in Albuquerque, NM. He has specialized in developing unique and high-quality content for law practices, which can help the entire community. Further, he is responsible for implementing creative strategy, project management, and online branding to develop the business in public and private sectors.