Assault and Battery in North Carolina

This article is a brief overview of the crimes of assault and battery.


Assault is the unlawful touching of a person or an attempt to do so.  To be charged with assault in North Carolina, it doesn’t even require physical contact.  Putting someone in fear of physical harm is enough for assault charge or conviction.  For example, when a defendant points a gun at someone and defendant thinks it is a joke but the victim has a fear of imminent harm, the defendant can be charged with assault.  Even the raising of a hand as if about to hit someone can constitute an assault.

Assault can be a felony or a misdemeanor and there are many types of assaults, depending on how the assault is done and who the victim is.  The most common form of assault is simple assault and it is a Class 2 misdemeanor.  This is just a basic unlawful touching or fear or imminent harm.  It carries up to 60 days jail time if convicted, but it is possible to receive only probation instead of jail time if you have a clean record.

Assault on a female is also a misdemeanor (Class 1) and carries up to 150 days in jail.  This is an assault on any female by a male who is over 18 years old.

Assault with a deadly weapon is the most serious assault charge and it is a felony.  Police must have evidence that you committed assault and you did so using a deadly weapon.  Even hands or feet can be a deadly weapon, depending on how they are used.  If done with intent to kill, this crime has a punishment of 44 to 92 months for a first time conviction.  If done with no intent to kill but still inflicted serious injury, the punishment is 15 to 31 months if convicted.

Other less common assault charges include:
Assault with a Deadly Weapon (Class A1)

Assault by Pointing a Gun (Class A1)

Assault on Child Under 12 (Class A1)

Assault in the Presence of a Minor (Class A1)

Assault on a Handicapped Person (Class A1)

Assault on Governmental Officer or Employee (Class A1)

Assault on a Company or Campus Police Officer (Class A1)

Assault on School Personnel (Class A1)

Assault and Battery on a Sports Official (Class 1)

Assault on a Public Transit Operator Class (A1)

Assault on a Firefighter or Specified Medical Personnel (Class A1)

Assault on Emergency Personnel (Class 1)

Assault and battery are often included in one charge.  Unlike assault, which can be the imminent threat of harm or contact, battery requires contact with the victim.  Battery is a criminal charge that is the unlawful act of physically harming or offensively touching a person.  In other words, assault is the threat of hurting someone but battery is actually hurting someone.

Battery charges may also be felonies or misdemeanors, just like assault.  They carry the same possible punishment time as the assaults.

Sexual battery is the unwanted fondling of another person.

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