It's a scenario that plays out all too often at bars, nightclubs and parties, one person is somehow offended at the actions of another, words are exchanged and the situation rapidly devolves into a physical altercation, leaving one, or both, parties with minor injuries.
While people might be tempted to dismiss these incidents as simply "boys being boys" or blame it on excessive alcohol consumption, the reality is that the law in Wisconsin takes a dim view of this conduct and expressly dictates that those who engage in it may be charged with misdemeanor battery.
What is misdemeanor battery?
State law defines misdemeanor battery as any action undertaken with the intent to cause bodily harm to another person or absent the consent of the person who suffered the bodily harm. As for bodily harm, this is defined as including any "physical pain or injury, illness, or any impairment of physical condition."
It's easy to see then how a person who caused just a scrape or a bruise in a minor altercation could face misdemeanor battery charges.
What if some sort of weapon was involved?
In the unfortunate event a person who commits a misdemeanor battery either threatens to use or actually uses a dangerous weapon, they could see their punishment enhanced if convicted.
Those items defined as dangerous weapons include firearms, both loaded and unloaded, ligature-type devices, electric weapons, devices designed as weapons and capable of producing great bodily harm or death, and "any other device or instrumentality which, in the manner it is used or intended to be used, is calculated or likely to produce death or great bodily harm."
It's easy to see under this comprehensive list how smashing a glass over another person's head or threatening them with a hunting knife could qualify as using a dangerous weapon.
How is misdemeanor battery punished?
Wisconsin classifies misdemeanor battery as a Class A misdemeanor, meaning anyone convicted of this offense faces up to nine months in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. Furthermore, if the convicted person threatened or used a dangerous weapon as defined above, he or she may see an additional six months added to their jail term.
Given these potentially steep consequences, those facing misdemeanor or felony level battery charges should strongly consider speaking with a skilled legal professional.