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Assault and Battery During the Time of COVID

July 31, 2020 Criminal Law and Procedure

The phrase “during these uncertain times” has become a part of our daily lexicon. Although the stay at home order has been lifted, the Governor has stated that the state will continue to monitor the number of cases and will reimpose restrictions if necessary. Unfortunately, many of us remain in limbo. You may have lost your job or only be working part-time. Your children’s activities have been canceled and school has not yet resumed. With limited outlets for people’s time and energy, it’s only a matter of time before we see an increase in assault and battery charges. Should you find yourself in this situation, an Ann Arbor assault and battery lawyer can help you face your charges and fight for your rights. 

The Difference Between Assault and Battery

Assault and battery are named together so often that people think they are a single crime. This is not the case – assault and battery are actually to separate charges. The principal difference between assault and battery is as follows:

  • Assault is defined as the attempt to cause physical harm to another person, including threats of violence. This could include actions such as brandishing a weapon or making verbal threats. The victim merely has to demonstrate that they were in reasonable fear for their safety. 
  • Battery, on the other hand, is the actual infliction of physical harm. 

When there is actual harm, assault and battery are often charged together because the battery was typically preceded by an assault. 

Frustrations Boil Over

The stay at home order has likely damaged many relationships beyond repair. Long-simmering issues that were muted by the daily routines of work, school, hobbies, and exercise were dragged into the spotlight when those outlets were taken away. Whether it’s spouses, other romantic relationships, or even roommates, people found themselves suddenly forced into close proximity with each other with no healthy way to vent their frustrations. Arguments escalate, and when someone loses their temper, it can quickly result in assault and battery charges. 

Baseless Allegations

Another trend we are anticipating is a wave of assault and battery charges that have no basis in reality. One person simply alleges that the other person assaulted them perhaps in retaliation for something else. If the alleged incident took place in the home, it is likely that there were no witnesses or other evidence to either support or contradict the charge. The problem is that the charge itself, even if later dismissed, can do irreparable damage to your reputation.

An assault charge can be particularly easy to make in this situation. You were holding a kitchen knife while the argument spun out of control, and suddenly your partner is claiming that you threatened them with the knife and they feared for your safety. No one else was there and there is no evidence of physical harm. Even if the charge is baseless, you should immediately contact an Ann Arbor assault and battery lawyer who will aggressively defend you against the charge. 

Your Custody Arrangements May Be at Risk

Another consequence of the lockdown is an increase in domestic violence complaints. If you are involved in a domestic violence case, you need to know that the next step is usually to revoke custody of your children. Generally speaking, the other side will argue that an assault and battery charges demonstrate that your children are in imminent danger. Obviously, this is a very serious charge and it sets in motion a complex process that can be extremely difficult for non-lawyers to navigate. Even if the issue hasn’t yet been raised, an Ann Arbor assault and battery lawyer can help you avoid it altogether or be thoroughly prepared if it does. 

The Consequences You Face

Assault and battery charges can range from misdemeanors to serious felonies. Here are the potential consequences you face if convicted: 

  • Simple Assault or Simple Assault and Battery: A misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in jail, a $500 fine, or both.
  • Aggravated Assault: if the victim required medical treatment, you can be charged with aggravated assault. Aggravated assault is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both.  
  • Felonious Assault: If a dangerous weapon was involved, you could face a felonious assault charge. As the name implies, this is a felony charge punishable by up to 4 years in state prison, a $2,000 fine, or both. 

Consider the scenario discussed above: you’re in the kitchen making dinner and arguing with your spouse. You’re chopping onions with a large knife, the argument escalates, and suddenly you are facing a felony assault charge. Even if you aren’t facing a felony charge, no one can afford to spend time in jail. Protect yourself and your reputation by contacting an experienced Ann Arbor assault and battery lawyer before things go too far. 

Potential Defenses

Many clients feel like their case is hopeless – maybe they have prior criminal convictions, or maybe the “optics” of the incident is not in their favor. Nevertheless, you have rights, and the charges must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Here are some of the defenses that commonly arise in assault and battery cases: 

  • Insufficient evidence: this can be a particularly strong defense in cases where the assault occurred at home and there are no witnesses. 
  • Self-defense: You have the right to defend yourself if you believe that you are in danger of imminent harm. 
  • Accident: you can be charged with assault and battery even if the injury was an accident. If you can prove that you had no intent to threaten or cause harm, then you may be able to avoid conviction.   
  • False accusations: As mentioned above, false accusations are more common than you think. Many alleged victims see them as a way to retaliate for some other perceived wrong. An experienced assault and battery attorney can help you defeat the charge and may be able to help you bring a case against your accuser for making a false report to the police. 

Call an Ann Arbor Assault and Battery Lawyer Today

At ArborYpsi Law, we’re prepared to meet the fallout from the pandemic head-on. If you’re facing assault and battery charges, attorney Sam Bernstein has the knowledge, experience, and skills that you need to get a fair result. Call us today at 734-883-9548 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.