A police stop of any kind can be an unnerving experience. You can feel anxious, fearful, angry, or have any combination of emotions. And sometimes, these emotions can run high. When they do, it is possible for things to get out of hand and lead to assault and battery on a police officer. When this happens in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, here are some things that you may want to know.
Understanding Assault and Battery on a Police Officer
In order to understand what this crime entails in Sapulpa, you need to understand what basic assault and battery are legally and how the crimes are linked. We often think of them as one crime, but they really are two different crimes that often occur together.
Think about one as a threat and the other, the action or the threat realized. Here is an example: when you cock back your fist in a threatening manner, that is assault. When you actually punch someone, that is a battery.
Assault and battery are really two separate crimes. But because they occur together so often, they are often charged together. You can think about a battery as a completed assault.
Legal Definitions of Assault and Battery in Oklahoma
In Oklahoma, an assault is legally any intentional attempt or threat of force or violence against another person. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 641
In contrast, a battery is the intentional and unlawful use of force or violence against another. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 642
Both acts must be intentional. If the actions occur as an accident, there is no assault and battery committed.
Assault and Battery on a Police Officer Defined
When the assault and battery involves a police officer, Oklahoma law provides enhanced penalties for the defendant. This crime often occurs out of a traffic stop gone wrong.
Oklahoma law makes it unlawful to assault a police officer without just cause. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 649
A police officer is broadly defined to include any sheriff, deputy sheriff, highway patrolman, corrections personnel, or other state peace officer in the performance of his or her duties.
It can be difficult to understand when an officer is “performing their duty.” An officer performing a traffic stop would certainly be acting in the performance of his or her duties. However, even an officer who has finished the actual traffic stop and moved back to their vehicle to begin a report would be performing his or her duty.
The law provides that even an officer who is off duty may be acting in the performance of duty under certain circumstances. An assault or battery that relates back to, or has to do with his or her official position as a law enforcement officer may be actionable under the law.
Special Circumstances Involving Officers
Most police officers carry a gun. An assault and battery on a police officer includes any attempt to reach for or gain control of that gun.
Let’s say the traffic stop becomes an arrest. If you make any move to try to get a hold of that gun, you could be charged under the law.
Understand the elements of the crime can help you understand possible defenses. The actions involved must have occurred “without cause.” That means that if just cause exists for the assault or battery, you may have a viable defense.
If the arrest is unlawful, reasonable resistance does not constitute an assault and battery. This is a complicated defense and should be explored with your attorney.
When an officer is not acting in the performance of his or her duties, you may also have a defense. If an officer is off duty, without a gun or uniform, and at a place of private employment not related to their work as an officer, the officer may not be acting in the performance of their duties. Stewart v. State, 527 P.2d 22, 1974 OK CR 173
Again, this is a tricky defense and very fact bound. Even the tiny facts in your case matter as you are trying to build a strong defense.
Penalties for Assault and Battery on a Police Officer
A charge of assault and battery on a police officer in Oklahoma ensures enhanced penalties and jail time.
If convicted of an assault, you could face up to six months in jail, a fine of up to $500, or both.
If convicted of assault and battery, you could face up to a year in jail or up to five years in prison. You could also face a fine of up to $500.
However, if the officer is gravely injured, the penalties are much higher. That can be charged as aggravated assault, which is punishable by life in prison in addition to fines.
This is not a charge to face alone. Get the help you need when you need it the most.
Free Consultation: Sapulpa Criminal Defense Attorney
Wirth Law Office – Sapulpa has the legal services you need for your unique situation.
For a free and confidential consultation with a Sapulpa criminal defense attorney, call 918-248-0067.
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