The Legal Definition of Assault With a Deadly Weapon
Legal definitions become extremely important when someone is facing a potential criminal penalty for behavior that they are alleged to have committed. Thus, we wanted to provide the letter of the law definition of assault with a deadly weapon right from the beginning:
- 14-32. Felonious assault with deadly weapon with intent to kill or inflicting serious injury; punishments. (a) Any person who assaults another person with a deadly weapon with intent to kill and inflicts serious injury shall be punished as a Class C felony.
When someone truly commits this type of crime, it is emotionally and physically scarring for the victim. We as a society agree that someone guilty of this charge deserves to be punished for their crime. However, we also recognize a legal right to defend oneself in a confrontation and a defendant’s right to a fair trial. All of these things can be true simultaneously, and that is why we need to take a closer look at potential defenses against this charge.
Defense Against Assault With a Deadly Weapon Charges
When facing the charge of assault with a deadly weapon, it can feel like all of the odds are against you when it comes to your defense. However, there are a number of legal defenses that a criminal defense lawyer can help you establish to prevent your conviction.
You Are Not the Right Person
Misidentifications can happen in the heat of the moment. Just because someone has pointed the finger at you and suggested that you were the one who committed an assault with a deadly weapon does not mean that this is true. It is a meaningful and significant legal defense to say: “You have the wrong person.”
It is not a defendant’s responsibility to prove that they did not commit a crime. Instead, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt to a 12-person jury of your peers that you have committed the crime that they are alleging. That said, defendants often feel pressure to provide evidence that they are not the person who committed the alleged crime. With the help of an attorney, it may be possible to do so. Should evidence exist that excludes you from possibly being the individual who committed this crime, the charges may be dropped before they are ever taken to court.
You Acted in Self-Defense
Reasonable people can agree that the use of self-defense may be justified in certain situations in order to protect oneself from bodily harm. Once again, we refer to the law as it is written in North Carolina for an understanding of the legal definition of self-defense in the Tar Heel State:
- 14-51.3. Use of force in defense of person; relief from criminal or civil liability.
(a) A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that the conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force.
With that in mind, it is easy to see how someone may be accused of assault with a deadly weapon when they were actually within their legal right to self-defense in North Carolina. Juries may not be aware of this, and they may be swayed by the arguments of the State if you do not have an assertive attorney on your side. When you do hire such an attorney, they will make sure:
- The jury understands you have a legal right to self-defense
- That the actions you took fell under the legal definition of self-defense
- That the jury must find you “NOT GUILTY” if your actions are deemed to be self-defense
When it comes to a defense for such a strong charge, ensure you have a good attorney on your team to explain your side of the situation.
Lack of Specific Intent
The charge of assault with a deadly weapon also requires that specific intent be proven to convict someone. An individual cannot have committed the crime of assault with a deadly weapon if evidence does not exist that they intended to commit a specific act of violence against another individual. That is not necessarily well known by the public, but it is critical when forming a defense against particular accusations.
Perhaps someone was injured by a weapon in the incident in question, but a lack of intent may reduce the types of charges that can be brought against a suspect. This does not mean that the accused will necessarily get away penalty-free, but the penalties for their crime may be significantly reduced if they did not have a specific intent when they took certain actions.
Why You Need an Attorney to Defend You
The Constitution of the United States guarantees all people accused of a crime represent themselves in a court of law should they choose to do so. However, such action is strongly discouraged by most in the profession. This is because acting as one’s own attorney without proper legal training is potentially a recipe for disaster. Courts do not look kindly upon someone who works on their own behalf but clearly does not understand the correct procedures and methods that they are supposed to go through. When you work with an actual attorney, you can rest assured that they will:
- Help you understand the nature of any charges against you
- Allow you to interface with them and ask any questions that you might have about the process
- Provide a full-throated defense of you and your actions
- Help you navigate the procedures of the court
Given the stiff penalties that one could face if convicted of an assault with a deadly weapon charge, it is strongly advised that you seek a proper attorney right away.
Reach Out to a North Carolina Assault Defense Attorney at King Law
When you are backed up against a wall and need some help, you need to know that you have an experienced assault defense attorney that you can rely on. The peace of mind alone that this buys you is worth it. At King Law, we will provide you with the professional and objective voice of reason that can outline your options and the paths that lie ahead.
If you have been accused of a crime, we may be able to help. Please reach out to us as soon as possible at (888) 748-5464 (KING) or fill out our contact form.