Unfortunately, many residents in Charlotte are the victims of domestic violence. As a result, this crime is aggressively prosecuted in our community—sometimes overzealously. If you have been arrested for domestic violence, you need the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney to avoid the severe penalties you face if convicted.
What Is Domestic Violence in North Carolina?
There is no specific crime of domestic violence in our state. It can be charged under a number of criminal offenses, such as simple assault, assault on a female, assault with a deadly weapon, and assault by strangulation. These crimes are considered domestic violence when the assault is committed against certain individuals that the perpetrator has a personal relationship with. They include:
- Current or former spouse
- Current or former intimate partner, which can include dating or living together as a family
- Family member or a blood relative
- A person’s child—whether by birth or adoption
While often charged as a misdemeanor, the offense can be a felony in serious cases.
Simple Assault and Assault on a Female Charges and Penalties
Simple assault is the unlawful assaulting of another person and is the least serious assault crime that a person can be charged with. What constitutes simple assault is defined under common law. There are two types of actions that constitute this crime:
- Overt act or attempt. It is considered an assault to do something or try to do something that puts a person in fear of physical harm even if she suffers no physical harm. Striking, kicking, or biting the victim or attempting to do so are examples of this type of simple assault.
- Assault by show of violence. For this crime to be committed, three elements must be shown. First, an individual must show that he has the ability to inflict injury on the victim. Second, the actions must be ones that would put a reasonable person in fear of harm. Finally, the victim must take an action she would not normally take or not do something she would have otherwise done, such as taking a different route to her destination or leaving a place.
Simple assault is a Class 2 misdemeanor. The punishment can include up to 30 days in jail for a first offense and 60 days in jail for a subsequent conviction.
Assault on a female occurs when a male who is 18 years old or older threatens imminent physical harm or has offensive physical contact with the victim. This is a Class A1 misdemeanor—the most serious misdemeanor offense in North Carolina. Upon conviction, a person could be sentenced to 60 days in jail for a first offense and up to 150 days in jail for a second or subsequent conviction.
Assault With a Deadly Weapon
Domestic violence can also be charged as assault with a deadly weapon, which can be a misdemeanor or felony. If a person commits an assault, assault and battery, or an affray and uses a deadly weapon, he can be charged with assault with a deadly weapon as a misdemeanor offense. This is also a Class A1 misdemeanor with similar penalties as for a conviction for assault on a female.
This crime can be charged as a felony if someone assaults a victim with a deadly weapon with the intent to kill or seriously injure the victim. This is a Class E felony if there was a serious injury or the intent to kill. If both of these elements were present, it would be a Class C felony. Possible sentences for a first conviction include:
- Class E: 15 to 31 months in prison
- Class C: 44 to 98 months in prison
Assault by Strangulation Is a Felony Crime
Assault by strangulation is another crime that can be charged when an individual commits domestic violence. This crime a Class H felony. To be convicted, it must be proven that a person committed an assault on the victim that caused physical injury by strangulation. If convicted, a person could be sentenced to between 4 months and 25 months in prison.
Contact Us for Help When You Are Facing Domestic Violence Charges
Have you been charged with domestic violence in Mecklenburg County? Our experienced criminal defense attorneys can help you build a strong defense to the charges you face—even if you are guilty. To learn more about your options, call our Charlotte office to schedule your free consultation today.