Understanding what assault and battery really are legally is the first step to understanding aggravated assault and battery in Oklahoma. Assault and battery are really two separate crimes that often occur together. Think of an assault as a threat of force and a battery as the force applied. When you cock a fist back to punch someone, that is assault. The punch is the battery.
The legal definitions are as follows.
An assault is an intentional attempt or threat of force or violence against another person. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 641
A battery is the intentional and unlawful use of force or violence against another. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 642
Both acts must be intentional. An accidental gesture is not an assault, and accidental contact is not a battery
Aggravated Assault And Battery Defined
In Oklahoma, aggravated assault and battery is defined as an assault upon another person in which the victim suffers great bodily injury or an assault by a perpetrator who is physically strong or in robust health against a victim who is elderly or otherwise incapacitated. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 646
An aggravated assault and battery is grounded in the amount of violence used. In the first kind of aggravated assault, the victim suffers grave bodily injury as a result. That can mean that the victim suffers broken bones, some disfigurement, loss or impairment of any body part or mental faculty, or substantial risk of death. That could be as a result of being beaten or as a result of a weapon being used.
The other type of aggravated assault and battery occurs as a result of the victimization of an “aged or decrepit” person. This type of aggravated assault is grounded in the discrepancy between a robust perpetrator and a frail victim rather than the amount of violence used.
In both types of aggravated assault and battery, there is no specific intent requirement that must be proven. General intent to perpetrate the crime may be inferred from the criminal act itself. This makes it easier for the prosecution to prove its case.
Penalties For Aggravated Assault And Battery In Oklahoma
Aggravated assault is a felony in Muskogee. It carries a penalty of up to five years in prison or up to a year in county jail, a fine of up to $500, or both. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 646
Defenses may be available to you. Here are a couple of the more common defenses.
The Injuries Were Not Grave. If the injuries are not grave and there is no physical disparity between the victim and the perpetrator, the charge of aggravated assault may be pleaded down to a simple assault and battery. So, the level of physical injury may provide a defense.
Case law may be instructive here. A defendant’s conviction for aggravated assault and battery was reduced to simple assault and battery when the injuries inflicted consisted of non-permanent bruising, discoloration, and swelling of the victim’s face — even though the victim was a seven-month-old infant. Injuries also found insufficient to constitute “great bodily injury” in Cox v. State, 361 P.2d 506 (Okl. Cr. 1961) where a healthy woman experienced a bruised, discolored, and swollen face and difficulty breathing, and in Minnix v. State, 282 P.2d 772 (Okl. Cr. 1955) where the victim suffered a split lip.
However, a broken jaw, a puncture in the head, and a hospital stay of several days’ duration were deemed sufficient in Morris v. State, 515 P.2d 266 (Okl. Cr. 1973). Similarly, injuries produced when the defendant stomped on the victim on the floor with his feet while wearing heavy driller’s boots were deemed sufficient in Ryans v. State, 392 P.2d 501 (Okl. Cr. 1964).
Self-Defense. Self-defense can be a tricky defense, as it often turns on the amount of force used. Some force in self-defense is acceptable. Be sure and talk to your Muskogee attorney about this defense.
If you are facing charges for aggravated assault and battery in Oklahoma, every fact in your case may be important. These cases and their defenses are complicated. Make sure you discuss this with an experienced Muskogee criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
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