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Assault: Felony or misdemeanor?

Often we generalize the definitions of assault. To many, the term means that someone inflicted a physical harm upon another. That's not entirely the case. Assault is the threat of harm. For example, assault in its simplest form is when a person raises their fist in a manner that the other person believes he or she is about to suffer a black eye. No actual physical contact need be made. Battery, on the other hand, is the actual physical contact.

Charges for assaults and/or battery can range from misdemeanors to felonies. North Carolina takes that a step further by setting classes to offenses charged. That system is designed to make sentencing appropriate for the alleged wrongdoing. 

A tussle between two people at a local watering hole would be considered a simple affray and is classified as a Class 2 misdemeanor. That particular misdemeanor becomes more complex depending upon who was on the receiving end. For example, the simple affray becomes a Class 1 misdemeanor if the assault and battery occurs during a sporting event where an official (referee, umpire, etc.), is performing his duties or immediately after that event. If convicted, depending on whether or not you have priors, Class 2 misdemeanors could carry a sentence of 1-60 days of active, intermediate or community punishment. A Class 1 potentially faces 1-120 days of active, intermediate or community punishment.

A felony charges is defined by serious bodily injury where there is great risk for permanent injuries, coma or even death. Felonies are also grouped into classes ranging from Class I (the least serious) to Class A. Class A is the most serious and can carry a penalty of life in prison without parole or even death.

Being charged with assault regardless of the type or classification is not as simple as the simple definitions. If you have been charged with assault and/or battery, contact an attorney who is experienced with defending against serious and violent crimes to discuss your options. 

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