Assault in North Carolina is a complicated charge with a variety of variables affecting whether a person is charged with a misdemeanor or felony and what kind of penalty can occur if the defendant is found guilty. To provide a bit of clarity on this charge, our criminal defense lawyers in Raleigh are looking more closely at aggravated assault – what it is, how it differs from “regular” assault, and the penalties associated with it.

Jail cell for aggravated assault criminal

What Is Aggravated Assault?

First, let’s define assault in the state of North Carolina. This is the reasonable threat of bodily injury as well as the act of injuring someone. In North Carolina, there is simple assault which also includes simple assault and battery and simple affray as well as aggravated assault.

The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation defines aggravated assault as “an unlawful attack by one person upon another for the purpose of inflicting severe bodily injury usually accompanied by the use of a weapon or other means likely to produce death or serious bodily harm.” In layman’s terms, this means injuring someone or attempting to injure someone with a deadly weapon, such as a gun or a knife or causing serious personal injury if attacking someone with a part of the body, like hitting someone with your fists or headbutting them and causing serious injury.

If the victim is a member of a protected class, the charges are more likely to be increased to aggravated assault. Considerations include:

  • Assault to first responder – police, fire fighters, emergency medical technicians, etc.
  • Victim is pregnant
  • Victim is a member of school staff
  • Victim is physically or cognitively disabled

Additionally, aggravated sexual assault is the charge given when the victim is seriously injured during rape or sexual assault.

How Does Aggravated Assault Differ from Assault?

Simple assault is a less serious charge that is given when an individually credibly threatened someone with bodily harm or intentionally caused an injury. Additionally, simple affray falls under this, which is public fighting. Examples of simple assault include:

  • Brandishing a weapon in a threatening manner;
  • Raising a fist and threatening violence;
  • Punching, kicking, or shoving someone causing minor injury;

The key difference between simple assault and aggravated assault is the outcome or potential outcome if a weapon is involved, of serious bodily injury. The state defines serious bodily injury as a bodily injury that “creates a substantial risk of death, or that causes serious permanent disfigurement, coma, a permanent or protracted condition that causes extreme pain, or permanent or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ, or that results in prolonged hospitalization.”

What Are the Potential Penalties?

While the majority of simple assault charges are Class 2 misdemeanors, aggravated assault is punished much more severely.

  • Aggravated assault resulting in serious bodily injury is a Class A1 misdemeanor which can result in up to 120 days in jail.
  • Aggravated assault on a disabled individual is a Class F felony and punishable by 10 to 41 months in prison.
  • Assault with a deadly weapon in which serious bodily injury occurs is a Class E felony and punishable by 15 to 63 months in prison.
  • Assault with a deadly weapon in which an attempt to kill can be proven and serious injury occurs is punished as a Class C felony and punishable by 44 to 182 months in prison.

Schedule a Consultation with a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Raleigh for Aggravated Assault

If you have been charged with aggravated assault, you need an experienced attorney to represent you and advocate on your behalf. To learn more, reach out to us today at 919-615-2473 for our Raleigh office or at 919-365-6000 to reach our Wendell office. You can also fill out the form below to get started.

Information presented on this website should not be construed as formal legal advice or the formation of an attorney-client relationship.  Additionally, any email sent to Kirk, Kirk, Howell, Cutler & Thomas, L.L.P. or any of its lawyers at the email addresses set forth in this website will not create an attorney-client relationship.

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Joe is an experienced personal injury and NC land condemnation lawyer in Raleigh. He also handles medical negligence cases in Wendell and Raleigh.