Assault with a Deadly Weapon in North Carolina

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Assault with a deadly weapon in North Carolina is a felony crime that is committed with either the intent to kill or that results in serious injury (or both). All other assault crimes are misdemeanors.

(N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. §§ 14-32 and 14-33.)

For information on misdemeanor offenses, see North Carolina Assault and Battery Laws.

Deadly Weapon

A deadly weapon, while not defined in the statute, is generally any object that could be used to kill someone. Guns, knives, and blunt objects are deadly weapons. Any item that is not normally thought of as a weapon but that is actually used to kill is also a deadly weapon.

Serious Injury and Intent to Kill

North Carolina recognizes two levels of assault with a deadly weapon: Those assaults that result in serious injury or were committed with intent to kill; and those that involved both serious injury and intent to kill.

Serious injury

A serious injury, wile not defined in the statute, is generally any injury that could require medical attention. Usually, the victim is not required to actually seek or receive medical care; it is enough that the injury is of the sort that could require a doctor’s attention.

Intent to kill

Intent to kill simply means that all of the circumstances surrounding the assault make it appear that the person committing the assault intended to kill the victim. Circumstances that can establish the intent to kill include the facts of the assault itself, any threats or words that were said, and any previous animosity between the defendant and the victim.

Crimes Involving Serious Injury or Committed with Intent to Kill

Assault with a deadly weapon, coupled either with serious injury or with the intent to kill, is punishable as a Class E felony. (N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 14-32, subd. (a) and (b).)

A Class E felony is punishable by 15 to 31months in prison, depending on the seriousness of the case. Judges may also impose the “presumptive” sentence of 20 to 25 months. A presumptive sentence is the sentence that will be imposed unless the judge concludes that a longer or shorter sentence is warranted (the judge must state his reasons for deviating from the presumptive sentence). Defendants who have prior felony convictions can receive even longer terms of imprisonment, up to 63 months.

(N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 15A-1340.17.)

Crimes Resulting in Serious Injury and Committed with Intent to Kill

Assault with a deadly weapon is a Class C felony when both the intent to kill and serious injury are present. (N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 14-32, subd. (c).)

A Class C felony is punishable by a prison term of 44 to 98 months, depending on the particular facts of the case. The presumptive term is 58 to 73 months. Prior felony convictions can result in an even longer term of imprisonment, up to 182 months.

(N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 15A-1340.17.)

In addition to a prison term, having a felony conviction on your criminal record means that you will be punished with a longer sentence if you are convicted of another crime in the future. The more serious the prior conviction, the longer the additional term of imprisonment will be.

(N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. §§ 15A-1340.14 and 15A-1340.17.)

Getting Legal Advice and Representation

Assault with a deadly weapon is a very serious charge. A conviction could expose you to significant time in prison, as well as a very serious criminal record. If you are charged with assault with a deadly weapon, you should consult with a North Carolina criminal defense attorney to consider your options and prepare the best possible defense.

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