Many people use the term “assault and battery” to describe criminal acts. Although North Carolina combines the two, each term has distinctive meanings, while some states separate them.
An assault in North Carolina is classified as giving another party (the “aggrieved” party) the fear of bodily harm, including the possibility of death. Acting in a potentially threatening manner or communicating threats of harm without touching another person is classified as “assault.”
“Battery” includes the actual contact and unwanted touching of a person without their consent. It is frequently combined with assault, but is a charge on its own.
Assault can be either a misdemeanor class or higher, depending on the severity of the assault. North Carolina assault charges have several classes, from simple to the felonious “assault with a deadly weapon.” The statute for the various degrees of assault is detailed in N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 14-33.
The Components of Assault
In order for an “assault” to occur, several components must be present:
- One person threatens to or actually does harm another individual.
- The other person had reason to believe he or she was actually in danger of being harmed
- The intended harm was immediate and imminent
- The assailant’s behavior was “offensive behavior” or communicated a physical threat, such as raising a fist to a potential victim’s jaw, indicating a potential punch
All of these elements must be in place to indicate assault, but it can be difficult to prove actual intent, as well as harmful and/or offensive. This is especially true when phrases like “I’m going to beat you senseless” are used casually, and refer to a sporting activity rather than to indicate the imminent intent of harm.
Defenses Against Assault
It is possible to raise a defense against assault charges. Potential defenses against North Carolina assault charges include:
- Self-defense—instead of the aggressor, you were the victim, and needed to use reasonable force to defend yourself or another person from the attacker. You must show that the other party acted first, and that you used reasonable force for the situation with which you were faced.
- Consent—you and the other individual agreed to engage in a fight or other activity that led to injuries consistent with an assault.
- Alibi—the prosecution charged the wrong individual, and you can prove your whereabouts at the time of the incident with one or more witnesses.
Can It Be Accidental?
Since assault is the act of someone intending to create a state of fear in another individual, but not necessarily making contact, the answer is probably “no.” An accident is just that, an accident, done without intent, and not intended to give the other individual fear of being attacked or harmed in any way.
However, every accusation of assault is different. Consult with an experienced Raleigh criminal defense attorney to discuss your case and build a strong defense if you are required to attend a trial.
Fight Assault Charges
Dewey P. Brinkley is an experienced Raleigh criminal defense attorney. As a former Wake County Assistant District Attorney, he understands the North Carolina criminal justice system. He has the experience to defend you in court against assault, whether a misdemeanor or felony charges.
Call the law offices of Dewey P. Brinkley today for a free initial consultation to discuss your case at (919) 832-0307. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or use our online contact form.