There are countless misdemeanor crimes and felonies that you could be charged for in North Carolina. Assault, sex and weapons offenses all involve assault. They are often called "violent crimes" because they involve the use of violence against another person.
Here are some of the common crimes involving assault that are misdemeanors under the North Carolina law:
As the name implies, simple assault is a minor assault charge and is rated among the least serious assault crimes. In comparison to the other misdemeanors simple assault is much less severe. Simple assault is when you unlawfully assault another individual by unlawfully touching, or threatening another person with bodily harm especially when it is obvious that you are capable of immediately carrying out the said threat.
Simple assault is a Class 2 misdemeanor carrying a maximum of 60 days of active, intermediate or community punishment. The maximum fine is $1,000. However, the severity of the sentence depends on prior convictions and the victim, among other factors. For instance, with a previous conviction, you could serve up to 60 days in jail with a fine up to $1,000. On the other hand, without previous convictions, the punishment could include 30 days jail sentence or probation.
Some Class 2 assault cases like a simple assault offense can be elevated to Class A1 misdemeanor when the violent act is perpetrated on certain individuals in protected classes like females, children or the handicapped. If a male who is 18 years of age or more commits a violent assault on a female, the offense is automatically elevated to Class A1. This carries a maximum penalty of 150 days of active, intermediate or community punishment. The fine is left to the discretion of the court; there is no specific maximum fine.
An assault with a deadly weapon is when a person commits an assault on another person using any object that can lead to death or serious bodily harm such as: belts, broken bottles, golf clubs, knives, and guns. You may be charged with a Class A1 misdemeanor if you are found to have committed an assault using a deadly weapon. Assault with a deadly weapon is an offense punishable with a jail sentence of up to 150 days with or without a fine based on the court’s discretion.
Pointing a gun at someone is a Class A1 misdemeanor punishable by a jail sentence of up to 150 days in jail. It does not matter if the gun was unloaded or loaded. Additionally pointing a gun at someone as a joke is not a defense to this crime. Pointing a gun at someone in self defense can be used as a defense to this charge in some cases.
Simply affray is considered a minor misdemeanor. It could however escalate into a more violent altercation that could lead to severe injury. Generally people are charged with simple affray when they engage in a physical fight in a public place. Simple affray could be a simple argument amongst friends that escalated to a free-for-all fight. This offense is a Class 2 misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of 60 days jail sentence, a fine not more than $1,000, community service and probation, as the case may be.
Sexual battery involves any sexual contact or physical contact perpetrated with sexual intent and performed with force or without the victim’s consent. It also includes sexual contact with the mentally deranged or physically helpless when the perpetrator knows these facts. Sexual battery is a Class A1 misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of 150 days in jail.
Some of the more common assaultive felonies that we come across are assault by strangulation and habitual misdemeanor assault, both of which are Class H felonies punishable by up to 36 months in prison. Habitual assault can occur after you have two prior assaultive convictions and cause injury to another person on a third conviction for assault.
It's possible that you could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony if you were defending yourself. However, just because you are facing charges doesn’t mean you’re guilty! People are falsely accused daily! In North Carolina, self-defense is a defense to all violent crimes. In order to claim self-defense successfully you must not use an unreasonable amount of force in defending yourself. Finally, you cannot use deadly force unless it is reasonably necessary to defend yourself under the circumstances.
Unfortunately, if you are convicted of a crime involving assault you will not be eligible to expunge the conviction. Expungements for violent crimes are only available if the charge was dismissed, or if you were found not guilty after a trial. You can, however, expunge a misdemeanor assault conviction if you were under 18 at the time of the offense. While you may not be eligible for an expungement you may be eligible for a certificate of relief.
When faced with a charge for an assault offense in North Carolina, you need the services of an experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorney. A crime involving violence should not be taken lightly. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you navigate through the criminal justice system. If you’ve been charged with a violent crime contact our office for a free attorney consultation.