North Carolina Criminal Law Chapter 14-32.1(e): Aggravated Assault on a Handicapped Person

North Carolina’s aggravated assault laws require using force or violence to perpetrate the crime. These crimes occur when someone unlawfully assaults another person, causing injuries or inflicting fear of bodily injury. A conviction may result in long-term incarceration. In addition to potential prison time, the court may impose fines or other penalties.

North Carolina’s law criminalizes “aggravated assault” against disabled and physically challenged individuals. The statute makes it illegal to commit an assault or simple battery on someone who is disabled or helpless, even without inflicting serious injury. This measure is part of the state legislature’s effort to reduce violent crime against those with disabilities.

What Is Aggravated Assault?

In North Carolina, assault means any unlawful attempt or threat to inflict bodily harm upon the person of another. The attempt comes with the present ability to commit a violent injury on the person assaulted or the apparent ability to execute such an injury immediately. An assault may be achieved by intentionally placing another person in reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily harm by physical force, however slight.

It may be an aggravated assault if someone does so with a deadly weapon or what appears to be a deadly weapon. A dangerous instrument is any object reasonably believed by the actor capable of causing death or serious bodily injury. Simple assault is a misdemeanor, while aggravated assault is a Class F felony. As a general rule, a defendant’s criminal intent must exist at the time of the commission of the offense. However, the prosecution may infer a specific criminal intent from the circumstances surrounding the accused’s conduct.

If you commit aggravated assault against a person who is disabled, you could face significant penalties. Most assume that this law applies only to those with mental impairment. However, the law defines disability as a condition or impairment substantially limiting major life activities. These activities include walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, thinking, learning, or working.

How Does the State Prove Aggravated Assault?

To prove an aggravated assault in North Carolina, the State must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • The crime occurred in North Carolina
  • The defendant committed an act with intent to harm or inflict pain on another or with wanton disregard for human suffering
  • The victim was a handicapped person
  • The assailant knew the victim was a handicapped person
  • A reasonable person would consider the actions to be dangerous or offensive
  • The defendant’s conduct created substantial danger or apprehension of serious injury to the victim
  • The defendant committed an assault with a deadly weapon
  • The defendant had malice aforethought

Malice aforethought exists where the defendant intended to cause serious bodily injury or knew that serious bodily injury would result from his actions. 

A deadly weapon is any firearm or device designed to expel projectiles by gunpowder, air, gas, or other propellants. A dangerous instrument is any object reasonably believed to be capable of inflicting death or serious bodily injury. However, it might inadvertently inflict only minor injuries. 

Extremely reckless conduct is conduct exhibiting a high probability that substantial harm will be inflicted on another person and demonstrates a failure to exercise care toward others. It creates a risk of possible damage substantially more significant than necessary to make the conduct negligent. Recklessness manifests by a conscious disregard for the consequences of one’s actions, indifference to whether the conduct is likely to cause harm, and complete unconcern for the safety of others.

What to Do After an Arrest for Aggravated Assault Against a Handicapped Person in North Carolina

In North Carolina, if the court convicts you of aggravated assault, you could be charged with a felony. If you’ve committed aggravated assault, here is what you should know about what happens after an arrest.

What Happens After Arrest?

If law enforcement arrests you, they’ll immediately read your rights under the constitution and then book you. Because the police have probable cause to arrest you, you won’t need a warrant. You’ll be fingerprinted, photographed, and processed through booking. After booking, you can call a lawyer to represent you while you wait to appear before a judge.

How Long Will You Be Held?

You’ll remain in jail until you appear in front of a judge. However, if you can afford bail, you may be released. Once you’ve posted your bond, you’ll be free from custody. 

Should You Request a Jury Trial?

You can ask the judge to dismiss the case if you’d rather fight the charge. However, if you’re facing charges for aggravated assault, the judge will likely give you probation instead of dismissal. To avoid serving probation, you may consider taking a plea bargain.

What Is a Plea Bargain?

Plea bargaining occurs when prosecutors drop certain charges for a guilty plea. It lowers the likelihood that you will get a harsher sentence than you are due.

Secure Legal Assistance for Your Aggravated Assault Case

You need legal assistance immediately if you’re facing charges for an offense involving aggravated assault or the threat thereof on a handicapped person. Do not speak to law enforcement without first consulting an experienced criminal defense attorney. An experienced North Carolina criminal defense lawyer may be able to help you avoid prison time and get charges reduced or dismissed altogether.

At King Law, our extensive legal experience and dedication to excellence are unparalleled. Our attorneys provide superior service in North and South Carolina. Contact us at (888) 748-5464 or (888) 748-KING or complete our contact form.