Should you press assault charges in NC

If you have been a victim of assault, or know someone who has or witnessed assault on another person, it is important to know your legal rights.

The Raleigh and surrounding area assault charge lawyers at Kirk, Kirk, Howell, Cutler & Thomas, LLP have all the details you need for filing assault charges. Whether you have been in physical harm, are a victim of domestic violence, need to file a restraining order, or want to discuss additional evidence related to your North Carolina assault case, our experienced attorneys are here.

We understand how vulnerable a time it is when you feel threatened, feel your life may be in danger, or have experienced bodily injury due to an assault. We want to help you build your criminal case so you can feel safe, have peace of mind, and bring your assailant to justice.

What Happens When You Press Charges For Assault?

When you are a victim of assault it can be a very confusing time. Your body has, in one way or another, experienced a violation and it is normal to experience a variety of feelings related to your assault. From anger, sadness, guilt, self-blame, and disgust, victims of sexual assault, assault and battery, simple assault, and aggravated assault will all undergo their own specific journey of emotions related to the crime(s) made against them.

Seek Medical Attention

If you have recently been the victim of an assault, it is vital to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Call 911 if you are in current danger or if you are incapacitated and unable to get yourself medical treatment. The hospital or doctor’s office will keep records of your exam in case it is needed as a piece of evidence in your assault case.

It is your choice whether you would like to press charges or not, but if you decide to do so it is always worthwhile to contact your local police department to have on record that you experienced an assault.

File a Police Report

In order to build the best case with the most promising outcome that will find your alleged attacker guilty and serving jail time, the sooner you can file a police report the better. When the details of the assault are fresh in your mind and when evidence of the assault exists, you will always see a greater possibility of building a strong case.

A report filed with the police to keep a record of your attack is the first step in building your case. Once the case is reviewed and deemed a viable case, an arrest warrant is issued and the perpetrator will be taken into custody.

Secure a Local Assault Attorney

It is also very important to find a local attorney who can help you in filing charges after an assault event occurred. Your legal representation will interview potential witnesses, examine the evidence, and press criminal charges.

Having an experienced misdemeanor and felony assault charge lawyer can help you tremendously during this difficult time. Knowing you have a local expert in criminal law on your side that you can trust, who knows the law and how to prosecute your abuser, navigating the criminal justice system will be an easier process.

What Kind Of Charges Result From an Assault When Found Guilty?

When someone is charged with assault, they will face two cases: a criminal case and a civil case.

Criminal Cases

Assault is a crime under the law of the federal government, therefore, a defendant who is charged in criminal court will be issued an arrest warrant, held in jail, or held until bail is set, and undergo a criminal trial.

If someone is found guilty of assault charges, they may be sentenced to jail time, paying fines, rehabilitation, and/or probation.

Civil Cases

An assailant may also face a civil case while awaiting a criminal trial. The civil case is a lawsuit brought on by the victim(s) who is suing for personal damages. If found guilty of a civil case, in addition to serving a jail sentence, your abuser may have to pay out compensation for injuries sustained.

These can cover medical bills for physical therapy, therapy based on trauma, and wages lost due to either physical or emotional reasons you are unable to work.

Types of Assault Charges

A prosecutor’s office will review your case and determine what type of assault occurred along with the best course of action in building a solid case. In North Carolina, most perpetrators charged with assault will face either a Class A1 misdemeanor or Class 2 misdemeanor assault charge, but in more extreme cases against disabled persons, when a deadly weapon is used, or when a crime of assault is committed against a law enforcement official, the perpetrator will face felony charges.


Battery crimes are when someone is harmed by physical force. The difference between assault charges and battery charges is that with battery the perpetrator has inflicted physical injury, whereas assault charges might be limited to the victim feeling a reasonable fear of the potential of physical harm. If there was non-consensual contact made in a harmful or offensive manner, it is called a battery assault charge.

Simple Assault

The least serious assault charge is simple assault. When there is an unlawful threat or physical injury of harm placed from one person to another where the accused has the immediate potential to act upon the threat of harm, it is called simple assault.

Simple assault is a Class 2 misdemeanor and can result in serving up to 30 days in a North Carolina jail. For repeat offenders, the judge may sentence someone to up to 60 days in jail and/or pay a $1000 fine.

Aggravated Assault

In North Carolina, aggravated assault may be classified as either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the details of the harm inflicted on the victim and the appearance or use of a deadly weapon. When an individual is credibly threatened with bodily injury or receives an intentional physical injury inflicted by another person, this is categorized as an aggravated assault charge.

If an individual experiences physical injury from the use of a deadly weapon like a knife, firearm, blunt instrument, or other weapon brandished for the use of harm, it is a very serious offense.

Depending on the injuries inflicted, the weapon used, the intent, the premeditation, and the status of the victim as a disabled person or law enforcement official, the crime of aggravated assault may be a Class 2 misdemeanor resulting in a sentence of up to 120 days in jail or a C, E, or F felony that can lead to significant jail time.

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault can be classified as both violent and non-violent and is defined as any non-consensual sexual contact from one person to another. If for any reason you or someone you know has been touched inappropriately in a sexual manner, this is a crime of sexual assault.

Sexual assault constitutes molestation, forcible rape, statutory rape, child sexual abuse, or inappropriate touching that is unwanted and is not consented upon. Forcible rape and sexual assault and battery crimes are felony charges that can lead to significant jail time and rehabilitation sentences.

How Long Can You Wait To Press Charges For Assault?

There is a statute of limitations on how long after an assault takes place the victim can press charges. If you are wondering if it is worth pressing charges for assault after the crime takes place, the answer is yes, absolutely!

It is always worth pressing charges if you feel it is something you can emotionally endure during your healing process. If you are unsure if you want to press charges right away, it is best to maintain medical and police report records for when you do decide to file charges against your assailant at a later date.

In the state of North Carolina, the statute of limitations for filing assault and battery charges is 2 years.

How Do I File Charges of Assault?

If someone has inflicted physical harm or unwanted physical contact on you, it is important to do the following:

  • Call 911 if you are in danger.
  • Write down the details of the assault.
  • Gather witness testimony.
  • Contact and file a report with the local police station where you share your name and address, the name and address of the assailant (if known), where the assault took place, the date and time of the assault, and how the assault occurred.
  • Contact a lawyer with experience representing victims of assault.
  • Collect additional evidence if possible.
  • Seek an order of protection if necessary.
  • Keep records of all unlawful contact with your assailant to be used in the case against them.
  • Await news of your case, court or trial dates, and any information related to the assault and battery crime charges.
  • Keep records of all expenses related to your assault case.

Is It Worth Pressing Charges for Assault?

Without a doubt, it is always worth it to press charges for assault. It is important after you experience a physical violation like assault to have the autonomy to decide to press charges of your own free will. No one, including family, friends, the police, doctors or nurses, or a legal team should ever pressure you to press charges if you do not feel comfortable or emotionally fit to do so.

Though it is your choice to press charges when you’ve been the victim of a physical crime of assault, battery, or sexual violence, it will help the accused get off the street and stop potential future crimes at their hands. Whenever you find it possible, it is worth pressing charges for assault, as long as you understand that it can be stressful and you will have to discuss the trauma of the assault throughout the legal process.

Do I Need A Lawyer for an Assault Charge?

If you are going to bring forward a charge of assault of any kind against a perpetrator who has threatened physical harm, inflicted harm against your body, non-consensually touched you or used a deadly weapon against you, your best course of protection is to hire a knowledgeable and talented attorney who is an expert in criminal assault cases.

Contact Our Attorneys If You Are Considering Pressing Assault Charges

If you’ve been assaulted and are not sure how to begin the process of pressing charges against your assailant, the lawyers at Kirk, Kirk, Howell, Cutler & Thomas, LLP, are here to answer all your questions. Our local attorneys are ready to provide all the legal assistance you need to seek justice.

Call (919) 615-2473 or complete the online contact form to speak with one of our experienced assault charge attorneys about pressing criminal assault charges.

Jeff is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Raleigh. He has effectively represented the citizens of Wake County and all over North Carolina since 1989.

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn