Assault and battery are serious crimes. There are various subdivisions for each type of crime. For instance, assault can constitute either a misdemeanor or felony. According to North Carolina law, even a misdemeanor assault can carry a one-year prison sentence.
Many times, people receive charges for both assault and battery. In other instances, it is one or the other. It is vital to understand the differences between the two, so that based on the actual charges, a criminal defense attorney can start building a case.
Essentially, assault occurs when a person threatens someone else and makes it clear there is the intent to do harm. Battery is the actual physical act of hurting someone else. Therefore, if a person threatened someone else but did not actually harm them, then he or she would face assault charges. If the person threatened and then committed bodily harm to someone else, then he or she would likely face both assault and battery charges.
Differences between misdemeanor and felony assaults
Another factor that goes into these kinds of cases is whether the assault classifies as a misdemeanor or felony. Most types of threats will fall into the misdemeanor category. For an incident to go into felony territory, the assault will have to involve a deadly weapon or the intent to kill.
Use the following incidents as examples for each type of case.
- A person is at a bar and gets into a scuffle with someone else. The person starts shoving the other patron and making threats along the lines of, “I’m going to beat you up.” This would fall into the misdemeanor category because it involves threatening words and touching.
- A person getts angry at a bar and pulls a gun out on someone else. Open carry is legal in North Carolina, so it is fine that the person has a firearm. However, pointing it at someone else as a threat falls into aggravated assault territory and would constitute a felony.
Even if there was no intent to actually shoot the person, the gun holder would still face felony charges.