Simple assault causes minor injury and a low threat of violence.

How to Beat a Simple Assault Charge in NC

In Criminal by Greensboro Attorney

The word assault is enough to inspire thoughts of someone being beaten up physically, causing serious physical injury. In reality, there are various classifications of the term ‘assault’ in the legal profession, and each varies in the associated legal punishment. If you are involved in such a case, it’s essential to know how to beat a simple assault charge in NC. 

A legal professional can help you understand the intricacies of such a case and the proper defense strategies, which could have your charges lowered or help have your case dropped. 

Types of Assault Charges in NC

In North Carolina, assault charges are classified into three categories based on the extent of injury inflicted and the level of violence.

Simple Assault

Simple assault is the least serious of the assault charges in NC. It causes minor injury and a low threat of violence. Simple assault does not even mean you’ve caused physical harm to another individual. It could mean aggressively approaching someone to serve as a threat or blocking them with a weapon (without actually using said weapon). 

Simple assault that does not inflict physical harm is usually meant for intimidation or to instill fear.

Aggravated Assault

Aggravated assault is a more serious charge and carries stiffer penalties. It is an unlawful attack on another person, causing bodily harm or injury. In addition, an aggravated assault charge has a more severe punishment if it causes serious physical injury to the victim of the assault. 

More serious penalties are involved if you assault a pregnant woman (or women, in general), children, and first responders. 

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is a specialized assault charge category since harm results from a sexual act without explicit consent from the other party. There are various categories of sexual assault, depending on the nature of the assault and the potential harm caused to the victim.

A simple sexual assault is when the offending party forces someone to engage in a sexual act with them, without their consent. A sexual assault with weapon charge is when a deadly weapon is used to convince someone to engage in a sexual act. And aggravated sexual assault is when the victim has sustained serious injury resulting from the sexual assault. 

An aggravated assault charge has a more severe punishment.

Can Simple Assault Charges Be Dropped?

It depends. The court will analyze each case independently based on the circumstances surrounding it and the criminal history of the offending party.

In North Carolina, a judge will determine whether it is possible to drop any charges on a simple assault case using three elements. The first one is intent. Intent refers to the nature of the assault and if there were serious threats involved during the assault. 

The next element is reasonable apprehension. Is there a serious threat against the victim unless the person involved is brought to jail? Is there a possibility that the assault will recur if the attacker isn’t apprehended?

And finally, the last element to consider about the gravity of the assault charge is the harm. Did the assault cause minor or severe physical injury? The more serious the injuries to the victim are, the higher the penalty.

In addition to these elements, the NC court will determine if this was the first time someone assaulted another person or if they are a repeat offender. If they’ve had a history of committing assault, there is a slim possibility that those charges will be dropped versus someone who is a first-time offender. The defendant’s mental health and addiction to drugs or alcohol can also play a factor in assessing their case. 

Can You Go to Jail for Assault Charges?

Yes. Imprisonment is a potential penalty for anyone charged with assault, even simple assault. For the latter, you could spend time in jail for up to 30 days.

Again, various factors will play into the court’s sentencing of your case, and you could potentially spend more time in jail if the assault resulted in serious physical injuries – or even death.

Build a defense strategy against a simple assault charge.

How to Beat a Simple Assault Charge in NC

How do you build a defense strategy against a simple assault charge in NC? Here are some strategies to use if you are involved in this case.

1. Self-Defense 

Self-defense is a solid strategy if you want to know how to beat a simple assault charge in NC. It is called “affirmative defense.”

It is beneficial to your case since you acknowledge that the assault occurred only because you were trying to preserve your safety. However, you must prove to the court that self-defense was necessary and that your safety was at risk. In addition, you must demonstrate that you were not the aggressor in the situation. 

2. Alibi

If you want to show proof that you did not commit the simple assault, you must provide a solid alibi. The alibi must show that you couldn’t have committed the crime since you were not present in the area where the assault occurred or have witnesses to testify that you were somewhere else at the time of the event.

3. Consent

The consent applies to sexual assault crimes only. The defendant must demonstrate that the ‘victim’ consented to the sexual act, which can help have any charges against you dropped. 

For the consent argument to work, the victim must be legally capable of granting consent. 

Should You Hire an Attorney to Beat a Simple Assault Charge in NC?

A simple assault charge might be a minor crime, but it does not mean you can get away with it. An attorney in NC experienced in assault charges can help turn the tide of your case in your favor, especially if you are not guilty of committing the crime.

A legal team can help you gather evidence and witness testimonies to support your case and have it dropped. Ensure you are aware of your rights to legal representation to prove your innocence until proven guilty. Since assault charges could appear on your record, it is crucial that you fight them legally, as such a charge could have severe consequences for your personal and professional life.