This is a misdemeanor
charge. It's punishable by up to 1 year in jail, but if the victim wasn't injured, jail time is unlikely. A conviction for a first offense would generally result in probation, including community service, an anger management class, and fees and costs.
They may also be forbidden from having contact with the victim while on probation.
An attorney is always a good idea in these situations, since a) an attorney can determine if there are any defenses to the alleged act and b) an attorney can negotiate with the assistant state attorney for best outcome.
The first court
date is an arraignment of the charges. Assuming the defendant hasn't obtained an attorney by this point (who can enter a not guilty plea for him and waive his appearance), he would have to show up and hear the charges and then enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. As a general rule, it is always better to plead not guilty so that a person can obtain a lawyer and have time to negotiate with the prosecutor. If a person pleads not guilty, a court date for the pre-trial
hearing will be set. If they don't yet have an attorney and cannot afford one, they will be offered the opportunity to request the public defender's office to represent them.