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Assault is among the most common violent crimes for which defendants are charged. Assault is frequently used as an umbrella term that encompasses all assault cases, but North Carolina recognizes three distinct types of misdemeanor assault and battery crimes: simple assault, assault and battery, and affray.

Simple assault is the most basic type of charge. It’s defined as the attempt to physically harm a victim (commit assault and battery) or a show of force indicating that physical harm is imminent. Put plainly; assault is threatening to use violence against someone. Contrary to popular thought, a defendant can be charged with assault without making physical contact whatsoever.

While simple assault and assault and battery are often confused, the law distinguishes between the two. Assault and battery occurs when there is physical contact with the victim without that person’s consent, with the intent to cause bodily injury. In plain-speak, the battery can be seen as a completed assault, though that’s not a perfect definition.

Lastly, an affray is a fight between two people in a public place that is likely to frighten others, such as a bar fight.

Types of Assault

In North Carolina, there are three types of assault charges: simple, aggravated, and sexual assault.

  • A simple assault is the most common and least serious, such as approaching or blocking a person to intimidate through fear. Usually, no injury is caused to the victim.
  • An aggravated assault is more severe and involves the implied potential for harm using a deadly weapon or otherwise aggressive show of force. Attacks in which the victim is a first responder, pregnant, or a member of school staff may also be considered aggravated.
  • Sexual assault involves forcing a victim to engage in any sexual act without explicit consent. The charge becomes aggravated sexual assault whenever the victim is seriously injured during the attack.

Penalties for Assault

Sections 14-33 of the North Carolina General Statutes state that any person who commits an assault, is guilty of a class 2, class 1, or class 1A misdemeanor–depending on the specifics of the case.

For simple assault, a class 2 misdemeanor charge is typically issued. If the defendant has no prior convictions, this is punishable by probation and a sentence of up to 30 days in jail. For defendants who do have prior convictions, a fine of up to $1,000 can be imposed, and the jail sentence can be up to 60 days.

In some cases, the defendant may be guilty of a class 1 or 1A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 150 days in jail. The following are considered aggravating factors which lead to enhanced penalties:

  • The victim is a state employee, a school employee, or sports official
  • The victim is a woman or minor child and the defendant an adult male
  • A deadly weapon was used
  • The defendant committed domestic violence
  • The victim incurred severe injury, requiring a doctor’s attention

Contact Us Today

If you’ve been accused of assault, it can affect all aspects of your life. Don’t speak to anyone before hiring a defense attorney. Having a skilled lawyer on your side can help minimize the penalties you incur. We will be honest with you about your options and what you can expect. Call Dysart Willis today at 919-747-8380 or contact us online to schedule a consultation if you’ve been charged with assault and are seeking representation.