BECKLEY, W.V. (LOOTPRESS) In a virtual plea hearing held in front of Judge Darl W. Poling on Wednesday, May 19, 2021, Hamlet Smith II, 51, pled guilty to battery- the use of force against another, resulting in harmful or offensive contact, including sexual contact. This is a misdemeanor offense.
Smith, owner of Life Strategies, a local counseling center, was arrested in October of 2019 on the charge that he had forced his hand down the shirt of a young female in his office on October 22, 2019. The victim was not a client of Smith’s and was at his office for professional reasons.
Smith was charged with first-degree sexual abuse against the woman.
Grand jurors indicted Smith in January of 2020, and he pled not guilty in February of 2020 before Judge poling.
Rather than go to trial, Smith pled guilty to battery, a lesser offense than first-degree sexual abuse.
Had he gone to trial and been convicted of first-degree sexual abuse, Smith would have been placed on the National Sex Offender Registry for life and could have faced up to five years in prison.
According to Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney Ben Hatfield, who represented the State of West Virginia in this case, battery is not a registration offense. Hatfield also stated that for misdemeanor battery, the penalty is up to 12 months in jail, and or a fine of up to $500.
If Smith is required to serve jail time, he will be credited for time already served.
A sentencing hearing will be held in person on July 7, 2021, 10 a.m.