Limiting The Penalties of an Assault Charge
If you have been accused of harming, trying to harm, or threatening someone, you may be charged with assault. You need to take these allegations seriously since you could be sentenced to time behind bars. You may think that the other person was not really hurt or you were simply involved in a situation that got out of hand. You might believe that the matter should be resolved privately without the police. However, all of that is out of your control. If your actions appear to have violated the law, you can expect to face a misdemeanor or felony, and you will need help from experienced lawyers for assault charges.
At Randall & Stump, PLLC, our violent crimes attorneys realize this is a frustrating and scary situation. Many assault or assault and battery charges arise from misunderstandings or arguments that became a bit too loud for neighbors or bystanders. Instead of resolving the issue with your friend, romantic partner, or family member, now you have a simple assault charge or assault on a female charge to deal with. We are here to help you with that. We will guide you through the court process, protect your rights at every turn, and fight hard for the best possible outcome in your case.
Call us at 980-237-4579 or submit your information through our online form to request a free and confidential consultation.
Defending Against an Assault Charge in North Carolina
A skilled assault lawyer can help you fight back against charges in North Carolina. Whether you have been charged with simple assault or aggravated assault, you are innocent until proven guilty by the prosecution. Our experienced attorneys understand how the prosecution will develop a case against you. We will evaluate their evidence and work to obtain the best outcome possible in your case.
Common defenses we may use include:
- You acted in self-defense or defense of others.
- You did not commit an unlawful touching, and you did not attempt to do so.
- You have been falsely accused.
- The prosecution lacks sufficient evidence to prove you committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
In many cases, we will use multiple defenses to minimize or eliminate your charges. We will negotiate with the prosecution and work to obtain an agreement that works for you. We can also push through to a trial to seek a not guilty verdict.
Assault & Battery in North Carolina
Assault and battery are technically two distinct crimes. An assault is the threat of unlawful touching, and it does not require physical contact. Battery is an unlawful, violent, or offensive touching of another person. It requires actual contact between the perpetrator and victim. These offenses overlap significantly in North Carolina and are often charged together as assault and battery.
Simple Assault Charges in NC
Under North Carolina General Statutes (NCGS) 14-33(a), you may be charged with a Class 2 misdemeanor if you:
- Commit a simple assault;
- Commit a simple assault and battery; or
- Participate in a simple affray (a public fight between two or more people).
A simple assault, assault and battery, or affray is one that does not include aggravating circumstances, such as if it results in serious bodily injury or the use of a firearm. A simple assault does not even have to result in an offensive or harmful touching at all. A simple assault and battery is one that probably results in nothing more than bumps and bruises or the victim taking offense.
If convicted of a Class 2 misdemeanor, you face between one and 60 days in jail, depending on your criminal history. If this is a first-time simple assault charge, then you face a maximum of 30 days of community punishment.
Based on NCGS 14-33(c), you may be charged with a Class A1 misdemeanor, if during an assault, assault and battery, or affray, you:
- Inflict serious injury upon a person;
- Use a deadly weapon;
- Are a male over the age of 18 years and assault a female;
- Assault a child under 12 years old;
- Assault a state officer or employee who is working at the time;
- Assault a school employee or volunteer who is discharging their duties at the time;
- Assault a public transit operator who is on duty at the time; or
- Assault a company or campus police officer who is on duty at the time.
A Class A1 misdemeanor can be punished with between one and 150 days of community punishment, intermediate punishment, or active punishment. If you are convicted, and you have five or more prior convictions, you can be sentenced to up to five months of incarceration.
Assaults Involving a Firearm or Deadly Weapon
Under NCGS 14-34, it is illegal to point a pistol or any other gun at another person, whether for fun or otherwise. If you point a gun at someone, whether it is loaded or not, this is considered an assault, and you will be charged with a Class A1 misdemeanor for assault by pointing a gun.
Based on NCGS 14-32, if you assault someone with a deadly weapon, you could face felony charges. If you assault someone with a deadly weapon with the intent to kill and you inflict serious injury, this is a Class C felony. This offense is punishable between 44 and 182 months imprisonment, though the presumptive penalties range from 58 to 146 months.
If you assault someone with a deadly weapon and inflict serious injury, and you did not have the intent to kill, then you will be charged with a Class E felony. If you assault someone with a deadly weapon with the intent to kill, although you do not cause serious injury, then this is a Class E felony as well. If convicted, you face between 15 and 63 months’ incarceration, depending on your criminal record and whether there are any other mitigating or aggravating factors in your case.
Assault Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury
If you are accused of assaulting someone and causing serious bodily injury, then based on NCGS 14-32.4, you may be charged with a Class F felony, which is punishable by between 10 and 41 months of imprisonment.
A serious bodily injury is one that results in:
- Serious permanent disfigurement,
- Permanent or long-term pain,
- Permanent or long-term loss or impairment of a function of an organ or body part,
- Prolonged hospitalization,
- Coma, or
- Substantial risk of death.
North Carolina treats assault by strangulation differently than other forms of assault. If you strangle another person and inflict physical injury, you will be charged with a Class H felony. This may be penalized with between four and 25 months’ incarceration, depending on your criminal record and the facts of your case.
To defend yourself against an aggravated assault charge, whether it arose from the use of a deadly weapon or the alleged victim suffering serious injuries, contact our lawyers for assault charges at Randall & Stump, PLLC.
Other Assault & Battery Crimes
The statutes above are the most common charges for simple assault and aggravated assault. However, North Carolina has several other laws that prohibit certain assault-related crimes, such as:
- Maliciously Assaulting in a Secret Manner (NCGS 14-31)
- Assault on Handicapped Persons (NCGS 14-32.1)
- Patient Abuse and Neglect (NCGS 14-32.2)
- Domestic Abuse/Exploitation of Disabled or Elderly Adults (NCGS 14-32.3)
- Assault on Executive, Legislative, or Court Officer (NCGS 14-16.6)
- Assault Inflicting Serious Bodily Injury on an Unborn Child (NCGS 14-23.5)
Penalties & Collateral Consequences for Assaults
The criminal penalties you face for a misdemeanor or felony assault crime depend on the class of the charge and your criminal record. For misdemeanors, the court takes into account your prior convictions. For felonies, the sentencing grid is more complicated. Based on your criminal record, you will be assigned a number of points, which dictate your prior record level. You may be assigned level I through VI, with the higher the level leading to harsher penalties.
The presumptive range of incarceration includes:
- Class 3 Misdemeanor: Between one and 20 days
- Class 2 Misdemeanor: Between one and 60 days
- Class 1 Misdemeanor: Between one and 120 days
- Class A1 Misdemeanor: Between one and 150 days
- Class I Felony: Between four and 10 months
- Class H Felony: Between five and 20 months
- Class G Felony: Between 10 and 25 months
- Class F Felony: Between 13 and 33 months
- Class E Felony: Between 20 and 50 months
- Class D Felony: Between 51 and 128 months
- Class C Felony: Between 58 and 146 months
- Class B2 Felony: Between 125 and 314 months
- Class B1 Felony: Between 192 and 483 months
- Class A Felony: Life without parole or death
For many assault charges in NC, you face a misdemeanor or a low to mid-level felony. With an experienced lawyer by your side, you may only have to deal with a short time in custody. You may also be able to obtain alternative punishments, like probation. However, once your period of confinement is over and you gain back much of your freedom, there are still hurdles to overcome.
With a violent crime on your permanent record, you may face a number of personal and professional difficulties in:
- Pursuing your education
- Obtaining private financial aid, such as grants and scholarships
- Obtaining certain professional licenses
- Finding a job
- Renting housing
- Acquiring or increasing child custody and visitation
- Maintaining your immigration status
- Traveling abroad