Getting into an altercation with another person can ruin anyone’s day. You may have simply been minding your own business when someone made a rude comment to you or a friend, and you responded verbally. Many people have been in such scenarios, and the incident can remain on their minds for hours or days after the event itself. However, instances in which an altercation turns physical can have many more lasting effects.
You may not consider yourself a hot head or a violent person. Still, if someone threatens your safety or the safety of a loved one, you may feel the need to step in to defend yourself or someone else. Though you may have noble intentions, police officers could still consider your actions criminal.
Facing assault charges
In North Carolina, you could face a charge for simple assault if authorities believe that you attempted to assault someone or that you did something that led others to believe that an assault was going to occur. You could also face a charge for simple affray if a physical fight does occur and disturbs the peace. Often, these simple charges fall into the category of misdemeanors, but felony charges are possible.
When do increased charges apply?
If the situation involved a deadly weapon, felony assault charges could result. Enhanced misdemeanor allegations could also apply if the altercation involved school employees, female victims and a male attacker 18 or older, disabled individuals, children under 12, volunteers or others in similar capacities.
Of course, a person viewing an alleged attack or fight from the outside may not have all of the information. As a result, to a third party, it could look like you attempted to harm someone when you were just trying to protect yourself or a loved one. Unfortunately, incorrect information could still land you in handcuffs until authorities investigate further.
What if you face charges?
Even if you know you did the right thing, you could still face charges for assault. However, charges do not mean that you are guilty. When faced with this type of ordeal, you may want to explore your criminal defense options to find the best way to approach your case. You may benefit from enlisting the help of an experienced North Carolina attorney who could explain your options, assess the circumstances of the altercation and help you move forward as effectively as possible.