The Differences Between Assault, Battery & Aggravated Assault

Defining Assault, Battery & Aggravated Assault Under NC Law

Despite some similarities, there are distinct differences between assault, battery, and aggravated assault that can significantly impact your sentencing. Each crime is explicitly defined by North Carolina state law, and depending on which charge you receive, it can result in significant jail time. To understand the differences between these crimes, you must first understand how each is defined by the law.

Assault & Battery

Historically assault and battery were considered separate crimes. However, today, these crimes are essentially one and the same. In fact, North Carolina state law does not specifically define assault by statute, instead relying on the traditional Common Law definition for assault. Battery is considered an assault under North Carolina state law. Assault and battery are considered “simple” if:

  • The assault involved an intentional application of force — regardless of how slight, direct, or indirect — to the body of another individual without their express consent.
  • The assault involved the intentional, offensive, physical touching of another without their express consent.

Simple assault and battery cases are usually categorized as Class 2 misdemeanors in North Carolina; however, this can be elevated to a Class A1 misdemeanor in the following special circumstances:

  • The defendant inflicts serious injury on another or uses a deadly weapon.
  • The defendant is 18-years-old or older, male, and has assaulted a female.
  • The defendant assaults a child under the age of 12.
  • The defendant assaults an officer or state employee.
  • The defendant assaults a school employee or volunteer.

Aggravated Assault

Assault and battery charges can also be elevated to a felony offense. When this occurs, it’s considered an aggravated assault. An aggravated assault happens when:

  • The assault was made with a deadly weapon, inflicted serious injury, and the defendant acted with the intent to kill.
  • The assault was made with a deadly weapon, and either the defendant acted with the intent to kill or the victim sustained a serious injury.

The first scenario is considered a Class C felony, while the second is considered a Class E felony.

The Main Differences Between Simple Assault & Aggravated Assault in NC

While there is no distinction between assault and battery under North Carolina state law, the key differences lie in distinguishing between simple and aggravated assault and battery charges. Simple assault charges are typically considered a Class 2 misdemeanor unless the victim belongs to a protected class. Class 2 misdemeanors will result in probation and a sentence of one to 30 days of jail time. If prior convictions exist on your record, the sentence can be as long as 60 days, and the judge may impose a fine of up to $1,000.

If your case is escalated to a Class A1 misdemeanor, you may be sentenced to one to 60 days of jail time and receive a fine at the judge’s discretion. Prior convictions may result in a lengthier stay in jail of up to 150 days.

When an aggravated assault charge is in question, the punishments are far more serious. Depending on the type of felony charge you receive, you could face the following penalties:

  • Class C felony: Minimum prison sentence of 44 to 98 months
  • Class E felony: Minimum prison sentence of 15 to 31 months

When to Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney

At Smith Giles PLLC, our team of criminal defense attorneys has proudly served clients throughout Alamance County, NC, for more than 35 years. We act as your ally, acting on your behalf to secure the best outcome for your case.

If you’ve been charged with assault, battery, or aggravated assault in North Carolina, schedule a free consultation with our criminal defense team by calling 336-222-7735 today!