If you are facing assault charges, it’s important to understand how serious these charges are. Even a misdemeanor conviction can negatively affect your life, making it difficult to get a job, rent an apartment, or get custody or visitation with your children. You need legal representation from a criminal defense attorney in Raleigh who you can trust to act in your best interests. Not only do you need someone with experience, they need to be dedicated to getting the best possible outcome, from providing sharp legal counsel to aggressively fighting against investigators and prosecutors to advocate on your behalf and protect your rights.
The attorneys at Sandman, Finn & Fitzhugh bring over 60 years of combined legal experience to their clients. While many of those years have been spent defending clients, they’ve also worked on the other side of the aisle as Assistant District Attorneys for Wake County. This gives our team of attorneys a unique perspective as well as insight into how prosecutors think, plan, and strategize, giving them an advantage.
Types of Assault Charges in North Carolina
In North Carolina, there are several types of assault, ranging from uttering threats to using a deadly weapon, so the range of charges is broad, as are the penalties associated with them. First, it’s important to note that affray, assault, and assault and battery are different things, though they may be charged in the same manner and all fall under the same umbrella. So, let’s consider the definitions:
- Affray is a fight between two or more people, typically in a public place, that can frighten others or disturb the peace.
- Assault is the credible threat of violence against someone, such as using a violent act like smashing a window to show that physical violence is forthcoming, drawing back your fist like you’re going to strike, or showing a weapon, such as a knife or a gun.
- An assault is an overt act or attempt, with force and violence, to do some immediate physical injury to another person which puts a reasonable person in fear of immediate bodily harm.
- Assault and battery is the intentional application of force, however slight, direct or indirect, to the body of another without the person’s consent or the intentional offensive touching or another person without their consent.
Knowing these, we can consider the types of assault charges an individual in North Carolina may be facing.
A Simple Assault includes Simple Assault and Battery and Simple Affray. At its core, these encompass assault in which no one is seriously injured and there are no added factors that would make the charges more serious. Some examples would include an adult male punching another adult male, an adult female pushing or shoving another adult female to the ground, or a group of individuals getting into a fight at a bar. Simple assault is a Class 2 misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
However, there are factors that can increase the severity of an assault charge from a Class 2 misdemeanor to a Class A1 misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of 150 days in jail and a possible fine. These factors include:
- Inflicting serious injury upon another person (those are examples of serious bodily injury and would make an assault a felony)
- Assaulting a female if the accused is a male over the age of 18; a child under the age of 12, or a disabled person;
- Assaulting or threatening a state employee, officer, or elected official, if that person is discharging official duties;
- Injuring or threatening a school employee or volunteer such as a teacher, coach, or bus driver;
- Use of a deadly weapon, such as a knife, gun, or any item that could inflict mortal injury, such as a broken beer bottle or a blunt object.
In North Carolina, when two people have a personal relationship and one party causes physical injury to another this is domestic violence. However, domestic violence does not have its own criminal charge in the North Carolina General Statute. It does fall under simple assault, and depending on the circumstances of the case, will most likely be charged as a Class A1 misdemeanor if the victim is a woman, child, or disabled person.
Assault by Pointing a Gun or Discharging a Weapon
While gun charges have their own section in the NCGS, there are factors in which a gun crime falls under the umbrella of assault. Even if it’s not meant to be threatening or done as a form of joke, pointing a gun at someone is a Class A1 misdemeanor. Also, firing a gun, whether it’s a shot gun, pistol, or even a pellet gun, into a house, business, car, or other property. is a crime that is classified as a Class E felony, or, if the property is occupied or people are inside, it’s a Class D felony. In the event someone is injured, it’s a Class C felony. On the other hand, firing a gun from a building or vehicle toward a person outside the building or vehicle, particularly in an act of gang violence, is punishable as a Class E felony.
Assault Against Law Enforcement and First Responders
A person is guilty of a Class F felony if they are found to assault and cause serious injury to a member of the North Carolina National Guard, law enforcement officer, probation officer, or parole officer while the officer is acting in an official capacity. Simple assault that inflicts physical injury is a Class I felony.
Habitual Misdemeanor Assault
If you have two or more prior convictions for either misdemeanor or felony assault within the past 15 of the current violation, you can be charged with Habitual Misdemeanor Assault. This charge is a Class H felony which is punishable by up to 25 months in prison.
Special Factors in Assault Cases
As we mentioned above, certain factors do affect both the charges and the penalties. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Assault on a minor
- Assault on a female
- Assault and battery, particularly as pertains to bodily injury
Why You Need an Assault Attorney for Your Case
While a bar fight or delivering a punch to someone may not seem serious, it’s important to realize that assault charges should never be taken lightly. Even a Class 2 misdemeanor often includes time in jail which can lead to loss of a job, loss of income, and other issues. Plus, these charges can negatively impact your future.
Having an experienced assault attorney in Raleigh who will stand up for your rights and advocate for your future is essential to having a better outcome. At Sandman, Finn, & Fitzhugh, our legal experience as well as our passion for justice means that you have a powerful ally on your side.
Schedule a Consultation with an Assault Lawyer in Raleigh Today
At Sandman, Finn, & Fitzhugh, we’re here for you from the moment you are under investigation or arrested. Fill out the form below to schedule a free consultation or call us at (919) 887-8040 to speak with an attorney 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.