In the state of Wisconsin, assault and battery offenses are taken very seriously. Depending on the circumstances of an alleged offense, an individual may face misdemeanor or felony charges. Felonies carry more severe consequences, including longer prison sentences and higher fines.
If you are facing assault and battery charges in Wisconsin, it is crucial to understand when these offenses can lead to felony charges. This knowledge can help you make informed decisions regarding your case. By seeking legal representation from an experienced criminal defense attorney, you can determine your best options for defending against a conviction.
Defining Assault and Battery
Before diving into the specifics of felony charges, it is important to understand what the terms “assault” and “battery” refer to. Assault generally involves actions that cause someone to reasonably fear they will experience imminent bodily harm or death. Battery, on the other hand, involves intentional physical contact that causes bodily harm or injury.
Wisconsin law focuses on battery when addressing criminal charges involving the infliction of injuries. The offense of battery may apply if a person intentionally caused someone else to suffer bodily harm without that person’s consent.
Misdemeanor Vs. Felony Battery Charges
Battery is typically charged as a Class A misdemeanor. However, there are some circumstances where a battery charge may be elevated to a felony. These charges include:
Substantial battery – If a person intentionally inflicts “substantial bodily harm” on someone else, they may be charged with a Class I felony. Substantial bodily harm may include broken bones, lacerations that require stitches, or a loss of consciousness. If a person acts in a way that puts someone else at risk of suffering injuries, and that person experiences substantial bodily harm as a result, the alleged offender may be charged with a Class H felony. A Class H felony conviction carries a maximum prison sentence of six years, while a Class I felony conviction may result in a sentence of up to three years and six months. A person convicted of a Class H or Class I felony may also be fined up to $10,000.
Aggravated battery – The infliction of “great bodily harm” by someone who intends to harm another may result in Class H felony charges. Great bodily harm may involve injuries that lead to permanent disabilities, disfigurement, or puts a person at a substantial risk of dying. If a person inflicting great bodily harm through acts intended to cause great bodily harm, they may be charged with a Class E felony, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years and a maximum fine of $50,000.
Battery against certain classes of individuals – The identity of the alleged victim of battery may affect the severity of the charges. Battery against a police officer or firefighter is a Class H felony. Battery against a driver or passenger of a public transport vehicle is a Class I felony. If a person is subject to a domestic violence restraining order or injunction, and they are accused of committing battery against the petitioner who sought the injunction, they may be charged with a Class I felony.