What does the phrase ‘assault and battery’ bring to mind? Violent attacks? Everyone knows attacking someone with your body or an object is considered assault and battery. You’ve probably heard that term used on your favorite police show. What you may not know is that assault and battery covers far more than that, and that an action that doesn’t seem violent could still count.
What is Assault?
Historically, assault is any intentional act that causes another person to fear physical harm. Verbally threatening an individual, threatening someone with a weapon, making threatening gestures, or unsuccessfully attempting to strike someone are all examples of assault, according to this historical definition. To reiterate, historically, assault is the act of making someone fear physical harm, not the act of physically harming someone.
What is Battery?
Whereas assault was considered, and still is considered in certain jurisdictions, the act of threatening violence, battery was considered the actual act of inflicting injury. Striking an individual, attacking someone with a weapon, or even touching an individual in an inappropriate manner are all examples of battery according to the historic definition. Battery has at times been referred to as “completed assault,” since battery is the completion of the threat made during assault.
Assault and Battery in Missouri
The state of Missouri does not have separate statutes for assault and battery, instead both are rolled into different degrees of the assault charge. Threats of physical violence are covered by the charge of fourth-degree assault. Actual acts of violence and negligence resulting in physical injury are covered by fourth-degree, third-degree, second-degree, and first-degree assault charges.
Although Missouri does not recognize aggravated assault as a separate crime, aggravated assault is defined in some jurisdictions as a more egregious form of assault and battery. Although laws vary, the charge aggravated assault usually covers assault with a deadly weapon. In some jurisdictions, aggravated assault also encompasses assault against “special victims.”
Special Victims in Missouri
In Missouri, the penalties for many assault charges are increased when the assault is perpetrated against a “special victim.” The list of individuals considered to be “special victims” in Missouri is extensive and provided below.
- Law enforcement officers assaulted in the line of duty or because of their duty.
- Emergency personnel assaulted in line of duty or because of their duty.
- Probation officers assaulted in line of duty or because of their duty.
- Elderly persons.
- Disabled persons.
- Vulnerable persons.
- Jailers and corrections officers assaulted in line of duty or because of their duty.
- Highway workers in construction or work zones.
- Utility workers performing their job duties.
- Cable workers performing their job duties.
- Mass transit employees performing their job duties.
Sudden passion is a factor considered when determining the degree of assault. As an example, in Missouri, attempting to kill someone while under the influence of sudden passion is second-degree assault, instead of first-degree assault. An individual commits a crime under the influence of sudden passion when they commit a crime, without premeditation, due to a circumstance that invokes strong, disturbing, emotions. The most commonly used example of a crime committed while under the influence of sudden passion is a husband assaulting his wife or his wife’s lover when he unexpectedly discovers their affair.
Missouri Assault Statutes
In Missouri, there are four degrees of assault. Fourth-degree assault can be a class C misdemeanor or a class A misdemeanor. Third-degree assault can be a class E felony or a class D felony. Second degree assault can be a class D felony or a class B felony. First degree assault, the most serious degree of assault, can be a class B felony or a class A felony.
- Fourth-Degree Assault – Class C Misdemeanor
A fourth-degree assault charge qualifying as a class C Misdemeanor, will be upgraded to a class A misdemeanor if the assault involved a “special victim.”
- Deliberately causing an individual to fear immediate physical injury.
- Knowingly touching another person in a way which the individual will consider to be offensive or provocative.
- Fourth-Degree Assault – Class A Misdemeanor
- Attempting to cause or recklessly inflicting physical injury or illness on to another person.
- Through criminal negligence with a firearm, causing physical injury to another person.
- Recklessly acting in a way that puts an individual at risk of death or serious injury.
- Knowingly touching or attempting to touch a disabled individual in a way which a reasonable person, who isn’t disabled, would consider offensive or provocative.
- Third-Degree Assault – Class E Felony
If a third-degree assault charge involves a “special victim,” it can be prosecuted as a class D felony.
- Knowingly causing physical injury to another person.
- Second-Degree Assault – Class D Felony
Second-degree assault is a class B felony if it involves a “special victim.”
- Attempting to kill another person while under the influence of sudden passion.
- Knowingly causing or attempting to cause serious injury to another person while under the influence of sudden passion.
- Knowingly causing or attempting to cause injury to another person with a deadly weapon.
- Recklessly causing serious injury to another person.
- Recklessly causing physical injury to another person by discharging a firearm.
- First-Degree Assault – Class B Felony
When a first-degree assault involves a “special victim,” it becomes a class A felony.
- Attempting to kill another person.
- Knowingly causing or attempting to cause serious injury to another person.
Call Day or Night for a Missouri Assault Attorney
KC Road Lawyers offers free consultations to individuals accused of assault and battery. Call 816-738-5725 or navigate to our contact page to find out how KC Road Lawyers can help you with your Missouri assault charge.
Some materials sourced from Missouri Revised Statutes Chapter 565.