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What Constitutes Assault in North Carolina?

By Joel Hancock

An assault occurs when one person tries to touch another person in a violent manner without their permission. Battery results when an assault is successful. In North Carolina assault and battery are considered a single offense: assault. An assault can be a punch, slap, or push; assault can also be throwing something at someone or spitting on someone. 

Types of Assault

There are three overall types of assault charges:

  1. Simple – the least serious type of assault, which involves minor injury or the limited threat of violence. This could include carrying a weapon in order to intimidate someone.
  1. Aggravated – this is a more serious type of assault, which carries a more severe penalty. Assault is often considered aggravated when it is carried out on first responders, pregnant victims, or if the victim is a member of a school’s staff. 
  1. Sexual – Sexual assault occurs when someone forces another person to engage in a sexual act without their explicit consent. There are a few different types of sexual assault:
  • Simple sexual assault 
  • Sexual assault with a weapon – threatening use of a weapon during the assault
  • Aggravated sexual assault – when the victim is seriously injured during the assault.


The punishment for assault often depends upon the specific facts and circumstances of each case. Assaults are put into separate classes depending upon the type of weapon used, the injury suffered, and the age/vulnerability of the victim:

  • Simple assault
    • Class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail
  • Assault with serious bodily injury 
    • May be a Class A1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 150 days in jail;
  • Assault with a deadly weapon 
    • Committed with the intent to kill or cause serious bodily harm
    • Deadly weapons include guns, knives, blunt weapons, or any object that can be used as a weapon
    • May be a Class E felony, punishable by up to 98 months in jail

Penalties may be more severe if the alleged victim is a child, elderly person, handicapped person, student, or patient.


While assault is a crime, there are affirmative defenses that may excuse your actions or minimize your punishment. Such defenses include:

  • Self-defense
  • Defense of another
  • Defense of property
  • Mistake or accident

Hancock Law Firm, PLLC Helps Those in North Carolina Who Have Been Charged with Assault

If you have been charged with assault and believe that you are innocent or that your rights have been violated, you may have options. You have the right to defend yourself. Your best bet of doing so successfully is with the help of a knowledgeable and experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorney who understands what you are up against and will fight on your behalf. 

At Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, we fully understand what is at stake and will do everything that we can to help you to fight this charge. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

About the Author
Joel Hancock is a native of Carteret County, NC. He devotes 100% of his practice to defending those accused of traffic infractions, DWI, misdemeanors, and felonies in Carteret County, NC.