In North Carolina, the crime of battery is taken very seriously, especially when children are involved. When the case includes an unborn child, the penalties faced can be even harsher.
In January, a Raleigh man was arrested after attacking a pregnant woman. He now faces charges not only for assault but also the battery of her unborn child. He threw a shelf at a woman who was eight months pregnant, and it struck her on the side of her abdomen.
Pregnancy takes many months, and it may not always look obvious, but that doesn’t excuse you from charges for battery of an unborn child. They can happen at any stage of pregnancy – even if you can’t tell the woman is pregnant. Here’s what you need to know about these charges in North Carolina, including the penalties you might receive if convicted.
Assault on a Woman in North Carolina
Under North Carolina law, when an adult male over the age of 18 threatens or enacts bodily harm against a woman, that qualifies as assault. However, the battery of an unborn child counts as a separate offense from this first assault. This offense can be drawn, of course, when a pregnant woman is assaulted or battered. It’s lesser-known in North Carolina law, but it can be used if prosecutors feel the crime fits the bill.
Assault on a woman is a Class A1 misdemeanor in North Carolina. This is punishable by as many as 150 days in prison. But if found guilty of battery of an unborn child, that’s considered a separate Class A1 misdemeanor subject to duplicate penalties.
Are There Defenses?
In North Carolina, several defenses for the battery of an unborn child can be used if they apply to your situation. After all, you are innocent until proven guilty, so you have the right to mount a proper defense in court.
Some common defenses to this charge include:
Intent is what motivated you to commit a crime. Prosecutors must show that you knowingly battered an unborn child. If you can show that there was no intention to do so, that fact can form part of your defense.
The Offense was an Accident
Accidents happen, and unfortunately they can involve pregnant women and their unborn baby. If the incident for which you’re being charged was an accident, that needs to be demonstrated. For instance, if you fell and accidentally pushed a pregnant woman, that action is defensible in court. An experienced attorney will understand the details of your case and present this defense when applicable.
Physical Harm Did Not Occur
If there was no injury as a result of the battery, the prosecution may lack grounds to find you guilty of battery of an unborn child. With solid evidence that no harm occurred, this is a good defense.
Legal Justification for Your Actions
If your actions can be legally justified, you may not be found guilty of battery of an unborn child. Your lawyer can advise regarding whether or not this is the best defense for your situation.
Contact an attorney to understand your rights if you’ve been charged with battery, so you can get to work on the best defense possible.