Have you been accused of assaulting, trying to assault, or threatening to assault someone? You should talk with a criminal defense attorney right away because you likely be charged with assault, which can be either a felony or misdemeanor depending on the alleged facts. While many people think these cases will go away as emotions subside, you need to take these allegations seriously since you could be facing active time in prison, if convicted.
You may think the situation just got out of hand, or the matter should be resolved privately. But what you think doesn’t always matter to the police and the prosecutor. If your actions appear to have violated the law, the police can arrest you for misdemeanor and/or felony charges, and a prosecutor will be tasked with prosecuting you for those same charges.
At Randall & Stump, PLLC, our violent crimes attorneys realize this is a stressful and scary situation. Many assault 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 relative, now you have a simple assault charge or assault on a female charge to deal with.
We are here to help. 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.
Should You Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer to Defend Against Assault Charges?
After you’re initially accused of assault or arrested, you might question whether the situation will go any further. You might not expect to be charged for a minor scuffle or an argument that went too far. But the best way to handle this situation is to call a criminal defense attorney right away, no matter what you think or expect might happen.
Even if you face a misdemeanor charge, you should take steps to avoid a conviction. An assault conviction on your record can have serious negative consequences on your life. Employers might not want to hire you, and landlords might reject your applications because they may now consider your to be a violent person. Also, pursing your education, working, having a safe place to live, and so much more will get harder when you have a criminal record.
By hiring an attorney right away, you have the best chance of mounting a defense and obtaining a favorable result in your case. In some cases, an experienced assault defense lawyer can get the charges dropped or reduced. If the prosecutor is intent on pursuing charges, and the judge won’t grant a dismissal, then your lawyer will prepare an aggressive defense for at trial. An attorney gives you the best chance of winning an acquittal or mitigating the sentence you receive if convicted.
Why You Should Work with Randall & Stump, PLLC
It’s important to choose the right attorney for your circumstances. When facing an assault charge in Charlotte, NC, you want to work with local attorneys who have in-depth experience fighting assault and other violent crime charges. Our team at Randall & Stump, PLLC have decades of trial experience. Additionally, one of our attorneys worked as a prosecutor, giving them keen insight into how the state builds and prosecutes its cases.
We have fought criminal charges at the state and federal levels across North Carolina and have an extensive track record of achieving favorable results for our clients. Please take a look at our case results to see how we’ve gotten many assault charges dropped. While we can’t guarantee a particular outcome to a case, you can see we fight hard for the best possible results for our clients.
When we tackle the assault charges against you, we begin by investigating the allegations and gathering evidence. We will talk with witnesses who saw or hear what happened, assuming they are willing to speak with us. This is an important step when your version of events differs from the alleged victim’s account. We weigh the facts that support or weaken your defense, and most importantly, we look for weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case.
It only takes probable cause for you to be arrested, but it takes much more than that for the prosecutor obtain a conviction. It’s the prosecutor’s responsibility to prove you committed each element of the crime charged beyond a reasonable doubt. We are here to defend you in court and show the judge and/or jury the prosecutor can’t meet that burden.
The Difference Between Assault and Battery
When you are charged with an assault crime, it’s important to know that assault and battery are not two distinct crimes in North Carolina. 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 the victim. But these offenses overlap significantly and are often charged together as assault in Charlotte.
Simple Assault Charges
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 resulting in serious bodily injury or the use of a firearm. A simple assault does not have to result in an offensive or harmful touching at all. Simple assault and battery often result 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.
More Serious Assault Charges
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, intermediate, or active punishment. If you are convicted, and you have five or more prior convictions, you can be sentenced to up to five months in prison.
Assault Inflicting 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.
Assault by Strangulation
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 of incarceration, depending on the circumstances.
Strangulation may include wrapping your hands around someone’s throat and applying pressure until they lose consciousness or even grabbing someone by the throat and causing them difficulty breathing.
Assault Involving a Deadly Weapon
Under NCGS 14-34, it is illegal to point a gun at another person, whether for fun or otherwise. If you point a gun at someone, whether it is loaded or not, it is considered an assault. 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. Assaulting someone with a deadly weapon with the intent to kill and inflicting serious injury is a Class C felony. This offense is punishable by between 44 and 182 months of imprisonment, though the presumptive penalties range from 58 to 146 months.
An assault with a deadly weapon that inflicts serious injury, but lacked the intent to kill, is a Class E felony. If you assault someone with a deadly weapon with the intent to kill without causing serious injury, then this is a Class E felony as well. You face 15 to 63 months of incarceration, depending on your criminal record and whether there are any other mitigating or aggravating factors in your case.
Other Assault Crimes in North Carolina
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 for a North Carolina Assault Conviction
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 considers how many prior convictions you have. There are categories for no prior convictions, between one and four prior convictions, and five or more convictions.
The presumptive range of incarceration for misdemeanors 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
For felonies, the sentencing grid is more complicated. Based on your criminal record, you will be assigned 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 for felonies includes:
- 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 Charlotte, NC, you may typically face a misdemeanor or a low to a mid-level felony, but there is the possibility that you could face decades in prison, if you are charged with a high level felony assault charge. With an experienced assault defense attorney by your side, you may only have to deal with a short time in custody. You also might be able to obtain alternative punishments, like probation, restitution, and community service.
Collateral Consequences to an Assault Conviction
If you are convicted and serve an active sentence in jail or prison, 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 several 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
Defending Against an Assault Charge in Charlotte, NC
A skilled assault defense lawyer can help you fight back against charges in Mecklenburg County. Whether you have been charged with simple assault or aggravated assault, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty, despite prosecutors assuming you’re guilty from the very beginning. Our lawyers are experienced defending against assault charges and understand how the prosecution will develop a case against you. We will evaluate the State’s 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 or attempt to commit an unlawful touching.
- 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.