What Are The Penalties for Assault and Battery Charges in Ohio?

is assault and battery a felony

When tempers flare, or situations escalate, it’s easy for confrontations to cross the line into criminal assault allegations. In Ohio, assault charges cover a broad range of offenses – from misdemeanors to serious felonies.

As skilled criminal defense attorneys, it’s our mission to protect your rights and advocate forcefully for the best possible outcome.

In this guide, we’ll explain Ohio’s assault laws in clear terms, exploring the nuances of misdemeanor versus felony charges and the factors that can elevate a case to more serious offenses. We’ll also examine common defenses, important court considerations, and long-term ramifications beyond fines or jail time.

Assault and Battery Laws in Ohio

Under Ohio Revised Code 2903.13, the definition of assault is “knowingly causing or attempting to cause physical harm to another or another’s unborn child.”

While this may seem straightforward, there are critical elements at play:

  • “Knowingly” implies that the offender was aware that their conduct could cause injury. This distinction separates assault from accidental acts.
  • “Attempting to cause” harm covers situations where no actual physical injury occurred, but the intent and capability existed to commit violence.
  • Finally, “physical harm” is legally defined as any injury, illness, or physiological impairment – however temporary or minor.

Ohio does not treat battery as a separate crime from assault. Instead, battery involving offensive physical contact or bodily injury enhances the degree of assault charge.

With this foundational understanding, the true nuances and potential consequences come into focus based on the specific circumstances and severity of the offense.

Types of Assault Charges in Ohio

Simple Assault

Under 2903.13(C)(1), a simple assault is a first-degree misdemeanor in Ohio. The elements are:

  1. Knowingly
  2. Causing or attempting physical harm
  3. To another person

Potential penalties include up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine maximum. However, the charges can be elevated based on the victim’s status or location of the offense.

Aggravated Assault

As defined in 2903.12, an aggravated assault occurs when the offender knowingly causes serious physical harm while under a sudden rage or passion due to serious provocation by the victim. This is a fourth-degree felony. If the victim is a police officer or the action caused serious physical harm, the charge becomes a third-degree felony.

Felonious Assault

Under 2903.11, a felonious assault involves knowingly causing serious physical harm or attempting harm with a deadly weapon. This is a second-degree felony, elevated to a first-degree felony if the victim is a police officer.

Other felony situations (from 2903.13):

  • The victim is a protected professional like an emergency worker (4th degree)
  • The crime was committed at certain locations like a jail or school (3rd or 5th degree)
  • The offender has a previous assault conviction against the protected victim (3rd degree)

Potential penalties for felony assaults range from 9 months to 11 years in prison and fines up to $20,000, depending on the degree.

Does a Victim Have to Be Injured to be Charged With Assault?

A common misconception is that actual physical harm must occur to warrant assault charges in Ohio. However, the Revised Code is clear – no bodily injury is necessarily required if the offender knowingly attempted to cause physical harm and reasonably could have.

In these cases, prosecutors may still pursue misdemeanor assault charges by demonstrating:

  1. The accused knowingly acted in a way that could have caused physical injury
  2. They had the apparent ability to inflict harm
  3. The actions created a reasonable apprehension of harm in the victim

The threat of harm combined with the means to carry it out can substantiate certain assault charges, even if no injuries materialize.

Defending Assault Allegations in Ohio

From the prosecution’s standpoint, an assault case may appear open and shut based on limited evidence and facts. However, as experienced assault and battery lawyers, we know there are always multiple sides to any incident.

Our team explores all possible legal defenses and mitigation strategies, including:


In Ohio, individuals have a right to defend themselves from force with non-deadly force. If the accused can show they acted reasonably to protect themselves or others from violence, this may negate assault charges.

Defense of Others or Defense of Property

Similarly, using reasonable force to prevent crimes against others or protect one’s property or residence can potentially excuse conduct that would otherwise be criminal assault.

Lack of Intent

Since assault requires knowing conduct, we may argue that there was no criminal intent to harm if the actions appeared accidental, reckless, negligent, or purposeful.


In mutually consensual fighting situations like sporting events or social gatherings, assault charges may not apply if both parties agreed ahead of time to some level of physical contact or restraint.

Identity Mistakes

Contradictory evidence, alibis, or other proof that the accused could not have committed the alleged assault is always grounds for dismissal.

Factual Impossibility

If it can be shown the accused had no actual ability or means to inflict harm despite their conduct, a legal defense of factual impossibility could defeat the charges.

These are just some of the potential defenses our firm may employ based on the specific circumstances of the case. Having intimate knowledge of Ohio assault statutes, case precedents, and court procedures in the local jurisdictions is invaluable.

Mitigating Factors for Charge Reductions

In some situations where the evidence prevents an outright dismissal, our focus shifts to mitigating the severity of charges and potential penalties.

Prosecutors may be open to reducing felony charges to misdemeanors or minimizing misdemeanor sanctions if extenuating factors exist like:

  • No Bodily Injury Inflicted — If an assault arrest stemmed from an attempt or threat without actual injury occurring, this may result in reduced charges or penalties.
  • First-Time Offender — Those with clean criminal histories sometimes receive more lenient treatment, especially for lower-level offenses where rehabilitation is possible.
  • Demonstration of Remorse — By taking responsibility, expressing sincere remorse, and committing to counseling or other conditions, we can influence more favorable considerations.
  • Provocation by the Alleged Victim — If the accused was substantially provoked through words or actions by the alleged victim, Ohio’s assault statutes contemplate lesser charges like aggravated assault.

When dismissing the charges isn’t possible, our attorneys look at all the facts and details to find the most practical way to get the charges or penalties reduced.

Long-Term Consequences of an Assault Conviction

Even when monetary fines and jail time have been served, the negative impacts of an assault conviction can linger indefinitely without a robust defense.

Having any criminal record – misdemeanor or felony – imposes serious collateral consequences:

  • Difficulty securing employment, professional licenses, housing, etc.
  • Temporary or permanent loss of rights like firearm ownership
  • Inadmissibility into certain jobs/careers and federal assistance programs
  • Potential deportation for non-citizen immigrants
  • Civil liability and lawsuits by the victim seeking monetary damages

Felony convictions further eliminate opportunities by stripping certain civic rights and privileges. All of this highlights how imperative it is to avoid an assault conviction from the outset or mitigate it to the fullest extent possible.

While Ohio law does allow for record sealing or expungement after certain waiting periods, that process is challenging and not guaranteed. Having skilled criminal defense representation provides the best opportunity to prevent these long-term collateral damages from ever occurring.

Get Experienced Legal Guidance for Assault Charges

Prosecutors have a reputation for being hard on crime, so they are motivated to file the most serious charges they can. This is why securing qualified defense counsel early is absolutely critical if you or a loved one have been charged with assault.

Assault charges, no matter how minor they seem, should never be taken lightly; the consequences are too severe. But with our trusted legal counsel from day one, you begin working toward a favorable resolution – whether outright acquittal or a significant reduction of penalties.

Contact The Botnick Law Firm immediately to request your free confidential case review.

Author Bio

Botnick Law Firm

Robert Botnick is CEO and Managing Partner of Botnick Law Firm, a criminal defense law firm in Cleveland, OH. With more than 19 years of experience in criminal defense, he has zealously represented clients in a wide range of legal matters, including DUIs, misdemeanors, felonies, domestic violence, and other criminal charges.

Robert received his Juris Doctor from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University and is a member of the Ohio State Bar Association. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including the Best DUI Lawyers in Cleveland award by

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