Understanding North Carolina Assault and Battery Crimes

There are three types of “simple” assault and battery crimes in North Carolina, in addition to more serious assault and battery crimes where aggravating factors are present.

Assault is the threat of force that will likely result in physical harm, while battery is actual unwanted or harmful physical contact. North Carolina sets forth the following “simple” assault and battery crimes:

  1. Assault: The threat of force that suggests physical harm will follow. A failed attempt at assault and battery where there is no physical harm is also considered an assault.
  1. Assault and Battery: A threat and action that results in physical harm to another person.
  1. Affray: A fight between two or more people in a public space which is severe enough to frighten bystanders.


Simple assault and battery crimes are generally charged as Class 2 Misdemeanors if the victim suffered only minor injuries and did not need to seek medical attention for those injuries.

These simple crimes are punishable by probation and jail time of up to 30 days if the defendant has no prior convictions.

If the defendant has prior convictions, Class 2 Misdemeanors are punishable by up to 60 days in jail. In all cases, a judge may impose a fine of up to $1,000.

Aggravating Factors

When aggravating circumstances are present, a simple assault and battery offense will likely be escalated to a more serious offense. For example, if the assault and battery results in a serious injury to the victim, the defendant uses a deadly weapon, the dispute is domestic, the crime involves a sexual battery, the victim is in a protected class (such as a child under the age of 12), the court may elevate the charge beyond a simple assault and battery.

While a criminal defense attorney can assist in your defense of any simple assault and battery case, it is especially important to seek legal representation when aggravating factors are present. With a track record of success in representing North Carolina defendants in a variety of assault charges, Attorney Cotten is equipped to help you. Give him a call today.