A heated argument, a misunderstanding, or even self-preservation can lead to a physical altercation that ends in assault charges. Most cases of in Oklahoma involve typical fist fights or acts of domestic violence; however, serious felony cases include aggravated, involving a dangerous or deadly weapon, felonious, or intent to kill.
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Whether a disagreement turns into pushing and shoving, an altercation results in serious physical harm, or escalated emotions cause a person to act rashly and violently, legal defense representation is necessary to protect a defendant from unwarranted or inflated charges.
In any argument, there are at least two sides to the story. An experienced lawyer can let your voice be heard.
Understanding Oklahoma's Laws
Most people think of an assault as the infliction of physical harm by one person against another. They think that "assault and battery" is a single criminal charge. However, in truth, you may be charged even if no physical contact occurs between an assailant and a victim, and these two crimes are two distinct charges which are frequently charged in conjunction.
These two crimes are defined separately under Chapter 20 of the Oklahoma Criminal Code (Title 21 of the state statutes):
- § 641 – An assault is any willful and unlawful attempt or offer with force or violence to do a corporal hurt to another.
- § 642 - A battery is any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.
In other words, it is the attempt to commit bodily harm through force or violence, and battery is the intentional use of violence against another.
To further complicate understanding of these charges, not all of these crimes are considered equal in the eyes of the law. Certain factors can escalate a charge from a misdemeanor to a felony, and while simple charges carry a maximum penalty of a year in county jail, charges involving a deadly weapon is punishable by a maximum of life in prison. Likewise, when committed against a family member, or domestic violence, is penalized more harshly than a general conviction.
Because of the broad definitions of these crimes, the variables affecting the charge, and the nuances of the law, it is imperative that anyone accused quickly obtain legal counsel. The lawyers with Phillips & Associates can help you understand the offense with which you have been charged and any potential consequences of conviction. We can develop the optimal defense strategies for your case and effectively deliver your defense for the best possible outcome to your case.
Assault crimes include any attempt to inflict bodily harm upon another. This may take many forms: beating, poisoning, using any dangerous or deadly weapon, throwing something at another person, transferring bodily fluids onto another, and more.
- Assault and Battery (§ 644)
- Domestic Abuse (§ 644 - 644.1)
- With a Dangerous Weapon (§ 645)
- Aggravated Assault and Battery (§ 646)
- On a Police Officer, Emergency Medical Technician, or Court Officer (§ 649, 650, 650.3-650.6)
- On a School Employee by a Parent or Student (§ 650.7)
- Shooting with Intent to Kill (§ 652)
- Maiming (§ 751-760)
Within each category of offense, there are even more detailed provisions outlining the specific variables of each crime and the related penalties associated with the crime.
For example, 21 O.S. § 644, which codifies Assault and Battery is a statute of nearly 2,800 words describing variations in the law and penalties for circumstances including simple; assault and battery; domestic abuse; domestic violence in the presence of a child; shooting a current or former spouse, the spouse of a current or former spouse, or the relative of a current or former spouse; against a pregnant woman; court ordered anger management counseling; and more.
Each case is unique, and certain factors contribute to the severity of the offense and its associated penalties.
Penalties & Punishments
The lowest level of offense is punishable by a maximum sentence of 30 days in jail and/or a $500 fine. However, typically, it is charged as Assault and Battery, a physical altercation or harmful physical contact resulting in only minor injuries. This is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail, unless the crime is characterized as domestic abuse.
When committed against a family member or household member is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail on the first offense; a subsequent offense is a felony. Find out more about domestic violence and aggravating factors on our domestic violence defense page.
Aggravated Assault & Battery
While simple Assault and Battery is a misdemeanor, the offense is elevated to felony status when it involves grave bodily harm by an able-bodied person against someone who is weak or frail:
§ 646 – Aggravated Assault and Battery Defined
A. An assault and battery becomes aggravated when committed under any of the following circumstances:
1. When great bodily injury is inflicted upon the person assaulted; or
2. When committed by a person of robust health or strength upon one who is aged, decrepit, or incapacitated, as defined in Section 641 of this title.
B. For purposes of this section "great bodily injury" means bone fracture, protracted and obvious disfigurement, protracted loss or impairment of the function of a body part, organ or mental faculty, or substantial risk of death.
The maximum penalty is five years in prison and a fine of $500.
Legal Defense Strategies
There are a number of viable defense strategies for assault charges in Oklahoma. In many cases, a lawyer may be able to utilize an affirmative defense, which means that, although the defendant did in fact use force, it was lawful force:
- Use of necessary force by a law officer in carrying out his or her legal duties
- Reasonable and moderate use of parental force for the correction or restraint of a child's misconduct
- Sufficient and reasonable force to remove a passenger who does not comply with lawful and reasonable regulations of the carrier
- Force used to prevent a mentally ill or impaired person from harming himself or others
At Phillips & Associates, we can carefully evaluate the circumstances of your case to reveal the best defense strategy for your unique situation. Our history of violent crime defense reveals a record of success, featuring reduced charges and numerous dismissals and acquittals at trial. Contact us today to find out how we can help you fight your charge.
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