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Ask a Criminal Defense Attorney: What Is Assault In North Carolina?


I was arrested for assault in North Carolina. Do I need to contact a criminal defense attorney or can I represent myself?

You always have the right to represent yourself on a criminal charge; however, it is not always in your best interest. There are a wide range of criminal assaults in North Carolina ranging from relatively minor misdemeanors to very serious felonies. While some assault convictions can carry serious penalties, any assault conviction will look terrible on a criminal record, and a conviction for assault can never be expunged. A criminal defense attorney understands the various laws defining assault. An attorney also understands the defenses to assault and understands how to build a strong case rebutting the assault allegations.

If you are facing an assault charge, you need our law firm on your side. Call our office at (910) 665-9134 for a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Defining Assault in North Carolina

An assault does not require that any particular amount of force be used or that there be some sort of injury. Instead, and assault is defined as any time that somebody touches another person in an, “unwanted or offensive” manner. Further, an assault does not need to involve physical contact at all. A simple show of force (such as raising a weapon as if to swing it) can be considered an assault.

Types of Assault Charges in North Carolina

There are several assault charges under the North Carolina criminal code. The specific law that applies often depends on several factors including:

  • your age;

  • the age and/or physical health of the victim;

  • the gender of the victim;

  • how the assault occurred;

  • the type of assault;

  • whether you used a weapon during the assault;

  • the extent of any injuries caused by the assault.

Simple Assault

Simple assault is a Class 2 misdemeanor. Simple assault is the unlawful touching of another person or the “show of violence” toward another person. A “show of violence” can be as simple as raising your fist but not hitting the person. Certain factors can elevate an assault charge to a more serious crime. Simple assault is the least serious of this type of crime.

More serious aggravated assaults that carry more significant punishments include:

  • Assault with a deadly weapon (Class A1 misdemeanor)

  • Assault by pointing a gun (Class A1 misdemeanor)

  • Assault on a Female(Class A1 misdemeanor)

  • Assault on a child under 12 (Class A1 misdemeanor)

  • Assault by Strangulation (Class H felony)

  • Assault inflicting Serious Bodilly Injury (Class F felony)

  • Assault on a law enforcement officer with a firearm (Class E felony)

  • Assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill (Class E felony)

  • Assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury (Class E felony)

  • Assault with a deadly weapon with the intent to kill inflicting serious injury (Class C felony)

The penalties for an assault charge depend on the classification of the crime. With North Carolina’s structured minimum sentences, you could face substantial prison time, fines, and other penalties if your assault charge is elevated to a higher misdemeanor or felony.

Defending a North Carolina Assault Charge

It is crucial that your criminal defense attorney understands the various assault charges and penalties. You need to present a defense that rebuts any aggravating circumstances that elevate assault charges to keep your charge at the lowest possible level for sentencing purposes. There may also be various affirmative defenses that apply to your case such as self-defense or accident. An experienced criminal defense attorney understands the importance of preparing a defense strategy that includes tactics to dismiss the assault charge entirely but also minimize the consequences of a guilty verdict if the matter goes to trial.

Preparing to defend an assault case often requires your lawyer to have a complete understanding of not just the law, but also the facts and circumstances that led to the charge. How your attorney presents the evidence to a judge or jury has an enormous impact on how the jury sees you. Most assault cases don’t happen out of the blue, but are the result of some larger conflict. It is important to give context to a case. There are usually two or more sides to every story, and it is rarely the case that the lines between the defendant and the alleged victim are completely clear. We do not want the judge or jury to view you as a predator or violent offender. Our criminal defense attorney investigates your case thoroughly to determine the best defense strategy based on the facts of your case. This gives you the best chance at a positive outcome in you situation.

The best thing you can do to protect yourself is contact a criminal defense attorney!

Contact an Experienced Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney

“Attorneys Who Aggressively Protect Your Rights”

The Trevor J. Avery Law Firm is a criminal defense law firm representing clients throughout Duplin County, Onslow County, and the surrounding communities. Call our office at (910) 405-8459 or contact us online today for a free case evaluation.

The court does not presume you are guilty because of your arrest. The prosecution must present evidence to convince a judge or jury that you are guilty of assault. It is our job as your criminal defense attorney to ensure the state follows the law and to protect your legal right to a fair and impartial trial. We take our job very seriously because we know your freedom and your future are at stake. Call our office immediately if you are arrested or you are being investigated for assault in North Carolina.