Best Strategies for Assault and Battery Defense Case in Korea

1. A Foreigner under Police Investigation for Assaulting and Injuring a Victim

In this case, the client was a U.S. citizen who has been working for a Korean company for several years. While having drinks with a group of people he knew, he got into an argument that, according to the victim in this case, escalated into an assault.
According to the victim’s allegations, our client pushed the victim hard in the chest, causing the victim to fall and suffer a cervical spinal cord injury. After the incident, the victim filed a police complaint which led to the investigation of our client.

The client reached out to us while the police was investigating him as an assault suspect. He denied having assaulted the victim and was rightfully very worried that if the police did not believe him, he would be no longer able to work in Korea or that his visa would be revoked, and he would have to leave the country. As a foreigner in Korea, the client was looking for an experienced English-speaking Korean criminal defense lawyer who could provide him legal advice and representation for this case. He then reached out to us after he found our firm on the list of recommended lawyers by the U.S. Embassy.


2. Punishment Levels for Assault Offenses in Korea

If the police had transferred the client’s case to the prosecutor’s office and the client had subsequently been convicted by the prosecutor, he would have likely received following penalty in accordance with the Korean Criminal Act:

Korean Criminal Act
Article 260 (Crime of Violence) A person who uses violence against another shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than two years, a fine not exceeding 5 million won, detention, or a minor fine.
Article 261 (Special Violence) When the crime as referred to in Article 260 (1) or (2) is committed through the threat of collective force or by carrying a dangerous weapon, the offender shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than five years or by a fine not exceeding 10 million won.


In Korea, a crime of violence is committed by assaulting another person’s body and it is categorized into simple violence and special violence (assault committed with a dangerous object, through a collective force, etc).

A simple assault is an offense that is “unpunishable over objection” (a crime that is not punished if the victim does not seek a punishment), so it is possible to avoid a legal punishment by reaching a settlement with the victim. In other cases, however, you cannot avoid punishment even if you reach an agreement with the victim, although it can still reduce the level of punishment.

If the assault constitutes a crime of special violence with bodily injury, the judge may sentence you to imprisonment without a fine. This applies especially if the person you have assaulted is a police officer, who is not a member of the public but a public servant.
In this case, our client maintained that he had never assaulted the victim, so our criminal defense lawyers devised a defense strategy to prove his innocence and began his defense by attending the police investigation.


3. Legal Defense Strategy of a Lawyer specializing in Assault and Battery Defense involving Foreigners

Even a minor act of violence can turn into a crime of inflicting bodily injury if there was injury caused to a victim, and while a crime of violence shall not be prosecuted against the objection of the victim, this does not apply for a crime of bodily injury. This means that even if a settlement is reached with the victim in relation to the caused injury, a legal punishment cannot be avoided.

Since the victim in this case was injured, our client would have faced criminal penalties if found guilty, so our criminal defense lawyers vigorously asserted our client’s innocence using the following strategies:

The defense attorneys vigorously argued for our client’s innocence by pointing out that the victim claimed to have been assaulted by our client, but there was no eyewitness testimony or CCTV footage to prove this, and that despite the claimed injuries, the victim did not visit the hospital until a week after the incident, which was too late to establish a clear connection between the injuries and the assault.

Moreover, the lawyers argued that the victim and our client knew each other and had maintained an amicable relationship, which included having meals together on a regular basis, and that our client had an exemplary work life in Korea with no criminal records of any kind.

Ultimately, the Korean police decided to close the case without charging our client, due to “insufficient evidence” of an assault. As a result, our client has received no criminal charges and is free to remain in South Korea.


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