Depending on the nature of the crime, an assault or battery charge could be a misdemeanor, or it could be a felony. In cases that involve weapons, the charges are more serious than in cases that do not. A case that involves a fight that both parties were actively engaged in is easier to defend than a case where one person was attacked by another. To understand your options for defense when facing assault and battery charges, you’ll need to understand how the law applies to these charges in North Carolina and discuss your case with an attorney.
Different Forms of Assault and Battery Charges in North Carolina
To start with, you’ll need to understand the basics of the specific crime you are being charged with. There is more than one type of assault and battery charge, so we’ll discuss the different types of charges you could possibly be dealing with before we discuss the potential defenses.
Simple assault is the best place to start because this is the simplest and among the most common of assault charges. It involves no injuries and no weapons. There does not even have to be any physical contact, because verbal assault and threats fall into this category. Simple battery does require physical contact that is unwanted and can also include force. However, there still does not have to be any actual injury to the victim for a simple battery charge.
Aggravated assault is a charge that involves the treat of harm and/or coercion with a weapon or aggressive behavior used as force. There may not be injuries, but a lot of cases of aggravated assault do involve injuries to a victim, and they are often severe. An aggravated battery charge involves the use of a weapon to cause injury, though this charge is also used for battery against a particularly vulnerable victim, such as a child, an elderly person, or a mentally disabled person.
Finally, a charge of sexual assault and battery involves the use of force to engage in nonconsensual sexual contact with a victim. In some cases, a weapon is involved, though this is not a requirement for a sexual assault and battery charge. It is also not necessary for the victim to be a stranger, and many cases involve domestic violence and abuse.
Potential Consequences for Someone Found Guilty of Assault and Battery Charges
The severity of the consequences for such charges are based on the severity of the crime and whether the charge is a misdemeanor or a felony. While misdemeanors are the least serious of charges, they still involve a range of consequences, based on the severity of the crime and whether or not it is a repeated offense. Typically, when someone is convicted of a misdemeanor assault or battery charge for the first time, they will spend no more than one month in jail, fines of no more than $1K, and community service. For subsequent offenses, the person might face a jail sentence of up to two months and more fines. In cases that involve aggravated assault and battery or sexual assault and battery, as a misdemeanor, the consequences can include a sentence of 150 days, substantial fines, and supervised probation.
When it comes to felony charges, frequently associated with the use of deadly weapons, the offender can spend anywhere from 15 to 98 months in prison. There will also be fines, probation, and other consequences, according to the case. The severity of the consequences is generally tied to whether or not the offender intended to kill the victim.
Defenses Available for Individuals Facing Assault and Battery Charges
It is possible to successfully defend someone accused of assault and battery. The different defenses that can be used in North Carolina include self defense, an alibi that proves that the accused was not at the location where the alleged assault occurred, and consent in such cases where the alleged victim was consensually engaged in a fight or sexual incident, for example.
Self defense is one of the most common defenses in assault and battery cases. This defense involves establishing that the person accused of the crime was actually the victim, and their actions were intended to defend themselves from attack. It is legal for someone who is being attacked to use reasonable force to stop the attack. It is important to be able to prove that the alleged victim was actually the initial attacker and that the force used by the defendant was actually reasonable in the circumstances. If you are ever in a situation where you must use force to defend yourself, it is wise to collect the contact information of witnesses, if possible.
Having a solid alibi is another way to defend yourself against assault and battery charges. It may be that the wrong person is being accused or that the alleged victim is simply lying. If you were not even at the scene of the incident, and if you can prove this with a solid alibi, then you can likely succeed in your assault and battery defense. This will usually involve witnesses and/or other forms of evidence, such as receipts, that indicate that you were somewhere else.
Finally, some people are able to use the defense of consent, meaning that there was no actual assault or battery because the incident involved voluntary engagement on both parts. This is common in cases where two people get into a fight that is mutual and in cases where the defendant is accused of sexual assault where the activity was actually consensual.
Contact Remington & Dixon PLLC to Learn More
If you are facing criminal assault and/or battery charges, you need to know your options, what defenses are available to you, and whether or not a plea bargain is in your best interests. This is all difficult to figure out on your own, especially when anything you say can be used against you. Contact Remington & Dixon PLLC to discuss your legal options with a skilled North Carolina criminal defense attorney. We will help you to fight the charges against you and seek the best possible outcome for your case.
Brandon double-majored in Political Science and Criminal Justice at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He earned his Juris Doctor from Barry University School of Law in Orlando, Florida. Throughout his career, Brandon has received numerous awards and recognition from his peers and agencies that rate attorneys. A few of these awards are from The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyer in 2014, The National Trial Lawyers: Top 40 Under 40 in 2014, Nation’s Top One Percent: National Association of Distinguished Counsel in 2015, Super Lawyers: Rising Stars in 2018 and 2019, and North Carolina Business Magazine: Legal Elite in 2019, among others.