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North Carolina law covers about a dozen offenses involving assault. The law distinguishes between these violent crimes using many criteria, including the victim’s identity, such as in the abuse of a child or female, or the relationship to the alleged victim, such as with domestic violence.

One of the more severe assault charges you could face is assault inflicting serious injury. The legislature classifies this type of assault as a felony that could land you in prison for a year or longer.

The seasoned team at Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Attorneys, has extensive experience representing clients accused of assault. Our attorneys understand the life-changing consequences you face upon conviction, and we fight to protect both your rights and your future. Contact us to learn how we can help you stand up to the power and resources of the government as you face these serious charges.

What Is Assault Inflicting Serious Bodily Injury?

The charge of “assault inflicting serious bodily injury” occurs when someone commits an assault and the victim suffers an injury listed in the statute as “serious.” The legislature designed this charge as a backstop that applies when no other charges with greater punishments apply.

In other words, if prosecutors can make a more serious charge stick, they will typically forego this one. But if no other offenses apply to the conduct, they use this charge to pursue felony-level punishment of someone who intentionally causes a serious injury.

Elements of the Charge

According to the North Carolina pattern jury instructions, an assault, when a battery is involved, is the intentional use of force on the body of another person, however slight, directly or indirectly, without their consent. Thus, prosecutors must prove the following elements to secure a conviction of assault inflicting serious injury in NC:

  • Intentional application of force
  • Lack of consent
  • Serious bodily injury

What Is Intentional Application of Force?

The intent required for assault involves the force, not the resulting injury. In other words, prosecutors must prove the defendant intended to use force against the alleged victim, not that they intended to cause a serious injury.

Intentional applications of force might include:

  • Punching or kicking the victim
  • Throwing something at the victim
  • Slamming the victim into the wall or floor

Conversely, prosecutors may have difficulty proving intent if the defendant’s contact with the alleged victim might have been accidental. Thus, if the defendant fell onto the victim or was pushed into the victim, the application of force might have been unintentional.

What Is Serious Bodily Injury?

But what is considered serious bodily injury exactly? The statute states that serious injuries cause any of the following:

  • Substantial risk of death
  • A permanent or protracted condition that causes extreme pain
  • Coma
  • Permanent or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ
  • Serious, permanent disfigurement
  • Prolonged hospitalization

This means that scars, blindness, or brain damage are more likely to qualify as an injury than broken bones or lacerations that heal without any complications.

Related Offenses

Charges for an assault inflicting serious bodily injury can relate to several other charges. With a few changes in the facts or circumstances, the severity of the charges can be significantly higher.

For instance, if the alleged victim is under 16 years old, prosecutors may file charges for child abuse causing serious bodily injury. Prosecutors could pursue this charge against a parent, coach, or babysitter who intentionally inflicts a serious bodily injury on an infant, child, or young teenager.

Two additional related charges involve assault with a deadly weapon. Charges for assault with a deadly weapon with intent to cause serious bodily injury or assault with a deadly weapon causing serious bodily injury differ only in the intent required. If prosecutors believe they can prove the defendant intended to cause a serious injury, they can go with the more severe charge.

In either case, these charges carry heftier penalties than assault inflicting serious bodily injury because a deadly weapon is involved.

Penalties for Assault Inflicting Serious Bodily Injury in Charlotte, NC

Is assault inflicting bodily injury a felony? North Carolina classifies this charge as a Class F felony. Using the sentencing matrix, the imprisonment for Class F felonies could range from 10 to 36 months for a first offender with mitigating circumstances to 20 to 62 months for a habitual offender with aggravating circumstances.

In addition to imprisonment, the court can order you to pay restitution to the victim and fines to the state. You will also have a felony conviction on your criminal history. An assault conviction might disqualify you from certain jobs, like nursing or teaching, and a felony conviction might block you from obtaining some professional licenses.

Defenses Against Assault Inflicting Serious Bodily Injury Charges

Your Charlotte criminal defense lawyer can present defenses to obtain a dismissal or acquittal of your charges. Some common defenses to assault inflicting serious bodily injury include the following:


Consent means the alleged victim knowingly agreed to the activity that resulted in the serious bodily injury. Football, hockey, boxing, and other contact sports can result in the intentional application of force that results in a serious bodily injury. However, criminal charges are usually inappropriate because the injured person consented to the activity.

Defense of Self or Others

Self-defense is permitted when you feel that you or someone else is in imminent danger of bodily injury. Your use of force must be proportional and stop when the risk ends.

Defense of Property

You can use non-deadly force to protect your property in your home, vehicle, or workplace. Again, you are not allowed to use excessive force in these scenarios.

Failure to Prove a Necessary Element

Prosecutors must prove every element of the offense. Some common defenses arising from a lack of evidence include mistaken identity and lack of intent.

How a Lawyer Can Help Fight Assault Inflicting Serious Bodily Injury Charges

A criminal defense lawyer from Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Attorneys helps you fight your charges by:

  • Listening to your side of the story
  • Gathering evidence to support your defenses
  • Reviewing police and prosecutors’ actions for Constitutional violations
  • Advocating for the dismissal or reduction of your charges
  • Negotiating for a fair plea bargain
  • Attacking the prosecution’s evidence and presenting your defenses at trial

Some common lines of attack on the prosecution’s case for assault include impeaching the credibility of witnesses and questioning the reliability of any forensic evidence.