Claremore Lawyer BlogFighting an Assault and Battery on a Police Officer Charge

assault and battery on a police officerAssault and battery on a police officer is a crime in Oklahoma, and it happens more often than you might suspect. Here is a scenario to think about.

It is a Saturday night and you and your friends have been out partying. The party gets out of hand and the police arrive to quell the noise.

One of your friends is rowdy and an officer puts him in handcuffs. You don’t like that and try to pull the officer off your friend.

In Claremore, that might be enough to get you into trouble. Here are some things that you may want to know.

Understanding Assault and Battery on a Police Officer

Assault and battery are legal terms. We often think of them as one crime, but they really are two different crimes that can and do occur together.

Though we think of assault as a physical attack upon a person, legally an assault is the threat of attack or harm on another. The battery is the actual attack.

When you pull out a set of brass knuckles to threaten a person, that is assault in Oklahoma.

When you actually hit the person, that is battery.

A battery is a completed assault.

Legal Definitions of Assault and Battery in Oklahoma

In Oklahoma, an assault is legally defined as 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 are intentional. An accidental assault or battery is not a crime.

Assault and Battery on a Police Officer Defined

When the victim of an assault and battery is a police or peace officer of any kind, the crime is more serious. It is unlawful to commit an assault or battery upon a police officer in the performance of his or her duties in Oklahoma, without just cause. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 649

Understanding Assault and Battery on a Police Officer

This crime can and often does involve more than the usual threat and execution of physical force upon a peace officer. Not only is a threat or physical force prohibited, but it is also unlawful to attempt to reach for or gain control of an officer’s gun. Any attempt to do so is chargeable as assault and battery on a police officer.


Most defenses are based on one or more of these three elements:

  • accident;
  • just cause; or
  • officer not engaged in the performance of duties.

Assault and battery are intentional acts. If the contact is accidental, there is no crime.

In the scenario above, if a buddy shoves you into an officer or you slip and fall against an officer, the contact is accidental and there is no crime.

Another defense lies in the area of just cause. If the assault and battery are justified, meaning you have just cause, there is no crime. But this defense is somewhat complicated and should be explored with your attorney.

If the arrest is unlawful, reasonable resistance does not constitute assault and battery. This can be the case with a false arrest or another unlawful arrest. The resistance must be reasonable. Sandersfield v. State 568 P.2d 313 1977 OK CR 242

Reasonableness of actions is always a thorny area of the law and one that an attorney can really help with.

Finally, when an officer is not acting in the performance of their duties, you may also have a defense. An officer performing a traffic stop would certainly be acting in the performance of their duties. And that officer’s duty continues as the traffic stop concludes and the officer moves back to this or her vehicle to write a report or move to another task.

Even an officer who is off duty may be acting in the performance of his or her duties 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.

However, if an officer is off duty, without a gun or uniform, and at a place of private employment not related to their job 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

Penalties for Assault and Battery on a Police Officer

If convicted of 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 five years in prison and a fine of up to $500.

If the officer is gravely injured, the penalties are much higher. That can be charged as aggravated assault; this is punishable by fines as well as life in prison.

Even the tiny facts in your case matter. Make sure you get the help you need to build a strong defense.

Free Consultation with an Experienced Claremore Criminal Defense Attorney

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