In North Carolina, assault charges are incredibly complex and several factors determine the type of charge you are facing and the penalty you may face if convicted. Because North Carolina does not have specific domestic violence charges, often when a man is accused of threatening, striking, or causing physical harm to a female, he is charged with assault on a female. J.M. Kotzker, P.C., a leading criminal defense lawyer in Raleigh, is providing a closer look at what this criminal charge means and how a conviction could affect you for the rest of your life.
Understanding the Criminal Charge: Assault on a Female
First, let’s look at how the North Carolina General Statute defines simple assault or assault and battery. At its most basic, this refers to committing an act of violence or committing a credible threat of violence against another person and is a Class 2 misdemeanor in North Carolina. Acts that are considered assault include:
- Hitting or punching
- Throwing an item at an individual in an attempt to cause physical harm.
However, in the case of assault on a female by an adult male, the charge is elevated to a Class A1 misdemeanor. In most cases, accusations of assault on a female stem from domestic violence, which is broadly defined as an act of violence against a member of a person’s household, a spouse or romantic partner, or a former spouse or romantic partner.
It’s important to note that in certain cases, assault on a female charge may be elevated to felony assault charges. For example, if the alleged victim accuses the man of attempting to choke or strangle her, he will be charged with assault by strangulation which is a Class H felony. Also, if the accused committed assault with a deadly weapon and there is an attempt to kill the victim and serious bodily injury takes place, the crime is punishable as a Class C felony.
If the alleged victim is a pregnant woman, the criminal charge may be elevated to assault inflicting serious bodily injury on an unborn child, which is a Class F felony. However, the child must be born with severe bodily injuries, such as congenital disabilities or traumatic brain injury caused by the alleged assault.
Related Assault and Domestic Violence Charges
In addition to the assault on a female, in issues of domestic violence, additional criminal charges may be applicable to the alleged victim’s accusations. This includes:
- Assaults with a deadly weapon, which, when there is an attempt to kill, or serious injury occurs with a deadly weapon, is punishable as a Class C felony.
- Protective order violation in which the accused broke the terms of a restraining order and can be punished with a Class A1 misdemeanor.
- Criminal threats, also called communicating threats, refer to threatening, either verbally, in writing, or through another means, to cause physical harm or property damage to the alleged victim. This is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor.
- Stalking, or directing unwanted or harassing behavior toward an individual is also a Class A1 misdemeanor or a Class H felony when violating a protective order.
- Harassment refers to continually tormenting, causing fear, or threatening another individual and is a Class 1 misdemeanor.
- Attempted assault with a deadly weapon refers to the threat that causes credible fear in another person of immediate physical harm.
Is Assault on a Female in NC a Domestic Violence Crime?
Committing criminal assault on a female is most frequently charged during a domestic violence incident as NC criminal laws specifically state that the offender is a male over the age of 18. However, this charge can also occur anytime a male threatens or causes bodily harm to a woman, such as an argument between two people that escalates into a physical altercation.
Penalties Related to Assaulting a Female
If you are convicted of assault on a female, what happens? If this is the only charge, and it is not pled down to a lesser criminal charge, a Class A1 misdemeanor is punishable by up to 150 days in jail, community service, and a large fine. However, if this was an incident of domestic violence, the judge can add an additional 30 days of active punishment to the sentence. Also, this doesn’t include any aggravating factors, such as prior convictions or other crimes committed at the same time, such as stalking or a domestic violence protective order violation that may include felony charges.
If the criminal offense is more serious, the following penalties may occur:
- Class H felony carries a maximum penalty of 39 months.
- Class F felony carries a maximum penalty of 59 months.
- Class E felony has a maximum penalty of 88 months.
- Class C felony has a maximum punishment of 231 months in prison.
Of course, a criminal defense attorney will be able to provide a more accurate look at the charges and possible penalties or jail time depending on the unique circumstances of the case.
Long-Term Repercussions of an Assault Conviction
In addition to time in jail or more severe penalties, the long-term effects of being convicted of assault on a female are severe. Any misdemeanor or felony criminal charge and conviction will be present on any background check for the rest of your life unless you get your record expunged. This can prevent you from getting a job, renting an apartment, or cause you to lose a professional license.
Additionally, if you are convicted of a crime related to domestic violence, you may have a restraining order against you, limiting where you can go, removing you from your home, or affecting your ability to be around friends and loved ones. If you and the alleged victim have mutual children together, you may lose custody or have to have supervised visits with your children.
Defending Against Assault on a Female in NC
If you are charged with assault on a female, numerous valid defenses can help you avoid a conviction. The most common defense strategies include:
- Self-defense against an attack or threat from the woman and your response was appropriate to the threat you faced.
- Lack of evidence in your case if the prosecution does not prove you committed the criminal offense beyond a reasonable doubt.
- False accusations from the alleged victim.
- Lack of contact or credible threat.
Can an Alleged Victim Drop Domestic Violence Charges?
If the alleged victim does not feel that criminal charges are necessary, can they drop the charges? No. Once a charge is filed against an individual, whether it is established in court is determined by the prosecutor in charge of the case. While the alleged victim’s testimony can help or harm the case, whether the case is dropped is not up to them.
Do You Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer?
No matter what the circumstances are if you are facing any assault or domestic violence charge, you need to hire a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Having legal counsel to advise you of your rights, investigate the case, and work to secure the best practical outcome, whether that’s pleading a case from jail time to a lesser sentence or supervised probation, or even having the charges dismissed altogether.
You can’t fight back against these charges alone. Having a strong defense lawyer on your side offers the best chance you have of a favorable outcome.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Raleigh Criminal Defense Lawyer
When you are facing allegations of assault or other criminal charges, we can help. At the Law Offices of J.M. Kotzker, P.C., we provide comprehensive legal services and serve clients facing all criminal charges. To learn more about how we can help you, schedule a free consultation today by calling [phone] or filling out the form below to get started.