Even though North Carolina lawmakers define assault differently from assault and battery, they are charged the same way. Below, we will describe the difference between the two, along with the penalties for these charges, and defenses that can be used to fight back against them.
Assault in North Carolina
Under North Carolina law, a charge of assault applies when an attempt is made to commit assault and battery, or an offender uses a show of force to demonstrate that assault and battery is imminent. In other words, assault is essentially threatening to use violence against someone.
It is normally charged as a Class 2 misdemeanor.
Assault and Battery in North Carolina
A charge of assault and battery occurs when an individual causes actual physical injury to someone else. The charge is also normally a Class 2 misdemeanor, with the same penalties as for an assault conviction.
The Importance of Aggravating Factors
Several factors can cause an assault or assault and battery charge to be raised to a higher level. These factors are described below.
If the act of assault or assault and battery causes injury that requires medical care, it is charged as a Class A1 misdemeanor. In most cases, the alleged victim is not required to actually receive medical treatment for this charge to apply.
Use of deadly weapon
Any object that can be used to cause death can be considered a deadly weapon by the courts, even though North Carolina assault law does not specifically define deadly weapons. The use of a deadly weapon during assault or assault and battery is a Class A1 misdemeanor.
This offense occurs between those who have a “personal relationship” as defined by the statutes. These relationships can include the following:
- Spouse or former spouse
- Dating partner
- Parent of your child
- Child under 18 and in the defendant’s care
- Household member
Domestic violence may involve the use of a deadly weapon or cause serious injury. It is a Class A1 misdemeanor.
This offense involves sexual contact by force, or physical contact intended for sexual reasons, committed against the will of the alleged victim. Victims who are incapacitated, mentally disabled, or physically disabled have special protections against sexual battery under the laws. An offense in this category is a Class A1 misdemeanor.
The act of assault or assault and battery on a sports official who is on duty is a Class 1 misdemeanor. This applies to any organized sporting event, large or small.
Victims with special protections
If the victim of assault or assault and battery falls into one of the following categories, the charges may be raised to a Class A1 misdemeanor.
- Women, if the defendant is a male and older than 18 years old
- Children under 12 years of age
- School employees and volunteers while on school property, driving school transportation, or during school events
- State employees and officers when on duty
- Public transportation operators when on duty
- Security officers when on duty
Penalties for Assault and Battery in North Carolina
Class 2 misdemeanor penalties: A first-time offense will require up to 30 days in jail and a probation sentence. Repeat offenses can amount to a maximum of 60 days in jail. Each conviction may also carry a fine of up to $1,000.
Class 1 misdemeanor penalties: A first-time offense will require up to 45 days in jail and a probation sentence. Repeat offenses can result in a maximum of 120 days in jail. A fine may be issued by the court, and the amount may be of the court’s choosing.
Class A1 misdemeanor penalties: A first-time offense will result in jail time between one and 60 days. This charge also involves probation or supervised probation. A fine may be assessed, and the amount of the fine is up to the court. Subsequent offenses can carry a sentence of a maximum 150 days in prison.
Anyone convicted of domestic violence may face additional penalties. First offenses involve mandatory supervised probation. For two or more offenses, the sentence will require a minimum of 30 days in jail.
Defenses against North Carolina Assault and Battery
If you are facing any of these charges, it is vital that you contact an experienced Greensboro criminal defense lawyer who will help you protect your rights. The sooner you contact an attorney, the better, since it takes time to prepare a viable defense. Your lawyer may suggest the following defenses, depending on your specific situation:
- You acted in defense of others.
- You acted in self-defense.
- You acted out of necessity.
- You did not possess intent.
- You have an alibi.
- You were falsely accused.
- The alleged victim has no proof of injury.
- You were voluntarily intoxicated.
- You were mentally incapacitated.
Contact a qualified attorney today to start building a solid defense against your charges.
About the Author:
Jan Elliott Pritchett?is Managing Partner at the Law Firm of?Schlosser & Pritchett?and one of North Carolina’s top rated criminal defense attorneys. With a practice dedicated 100% to litigation, Mr. Pritchett protects the legal rights of clients who have been charged in federal and state criminal matters, as well as DUI/DWi, motor vehicle accidents, personal injury, and traffic violations. In practice since 1995, Mr. Pritchett has earned a reputation as a highly talented and fearless lawyer, being listed among the state’s “Legal Elite” and recognized as one of the Top 100 DWI Lawyers in North Carolina by the National Advocacy of DUI Defense.? He currently serves as the Co-Chairman of the North Carolina State Board of Legal Specialization, Criminal Law Specialty, and Vice-Chairman of the North Carolina Bar Association, Criminal Justice Section.