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How are simple assault and aggravated assault different?

| May 12, 2021 | Criminal Defense

No adult likes to feel like they lack control of a situation — but it sure can feel that way if you’re facing criminal charges.

Any time you’re facing legal charges can be a terrifying ordeal. Knowing the difference between one offense and another can help you make more informed choices about your defense strategy. You should know that there are two types of assault charges in North Carolina: Simple and aggravated. 

How do prosecutors decide which assault charges to file against a defendant?

Sever different factors usually go into the equation when prosecutors decide how to charge a case — and every case is different. They tend to weigh whether:

  • There was a weapon involved in the assault
  • The victim’s assault occurred while attempting to perform their duties as a paramedic, firefighter or police office
  • A defendant intended to cause severe harm to the victim
  • The defendant allegedly assaulted the victim because of their membership to a specific group, such as race, religion, gender or sexual orientation, thus making it a hate crime
  • The extent of injuries suffered by a victim

Significant injuries may result in a defendant facing attempted homicide charges — which moves a case out of the realm of mere “assault.” 

The designation of whether an assault is simple or aggravated has some serious legal implications. A simple assault is generally a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail. In comparison, an aggravated assault is generally a felony carrying a sentence of more than one year in prison.

What can you do if you’ve been charged with assault?

Sometimes there might be mitigating factors that contributed to the assault, such as an argument or disagreement. Maybe things started as a war of words and turned into something violent. An attorney experienced in representing clients facing serious criminal charges like these will be able to let you know of your rights in your case and any defense strategies you might be able to pursue.