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

1. Definition and Elements of the Crime

Seal of the Supreme Court of the State of North Carolina - Assault & Battery Under North Carolina Criminal Law Chapter 14-32.1, the crime of aggravated assault on a handicapped person is defined as the intentional assault of a person with a disability where the defendant knew or had reasonable grounds to know the victim suffers from a disability and the defendant commits any of the following acts:

  1. Uses a deadly weapon;
  2. The defendant (the person charged with a criminal offense) used a means of force likely to inflict serious injury or serious damage to an individual with a disability;
  3. The defendant inflicts serious damage or injury upon the alleged victim;
  4. The defendant had the intent to kill the alleged victim.

To prove a charge of aggravated assault on a handicapped person, the State must be able to establish the following prima facie elements Beyond a Reasonable Doubt:

  • That the Defendant assaulted the alleged victim by intentionally (and without justification or excuse) (describe assault);
  • That the alleged victim was an individual with a disability. An individual with a disability is a person who has physical and/or mental disability, such as: (1) decreased use of arms or legs; (2) blindness; (3) deafness; (4) intellectual disability; (5) mental illness; or (6) an infirmity which would substantially impair that person’s ability to defend themselves;
  • That the Defendant knew or had reasonable grounds to know that the alleged victim was an individual with a disability;
  • That the defendant used a deadly weapon. A deadly weapon is weapon which is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury. [(Name weapon) is a deadly weapon.] In determining whether (name weapon) is a deadly weapon, you should consider the nature of (name weapon), the manner in which it was used, and the size and strength of the defendant as compared to the alleged victim;
  • That the defendant used a means of force likely to inflict serious injury or serious damage to an individual with a disability. In determining whether (name force) is a force likely to inflict serious injury or serious damage to an individual with a disability, you should consider the nature of (name force), the manner in which it was used, and the size and strength of the defendant as compared to (name alleged victim);
  • That the defendant inflicted serious injury or serious damage upon the alleged victim;
  • That the defendant had the intent to kill the alleged victim.

Serious injury may be defined as such physical injury that causes great pain and suffering. If there is evidence as to injuries which could not conceivably be considered anything but serious, the trial judge may instruct the jury as follows: “(Describe injury) would be a serious injury.”

2. Examples

Defendant works at a mental health facility. The alleged victim is physically and mentally impaired. Defendant gets frustrated and forcefully grabs, pulls, and pushes the victim, and sits on the victim's head while pressing the victim's face into the carpet. Defendant can be charged with aggravated assault on a handicapped person.

Defendant observes a man in a wheelchair and decides to rob him. The alleged victim is paralyzed from the waist down. Defendant strikes victim over the head with a metal pipe and takes his wallet. Defendant can be charged with aggravated assault on a handicapped person.

Defendant’s mother has a large life insurance policy. Defendant wants the money very badly. Defendant’s mother has Alzheimer’s and uses a walker. Defendant forcefully shoves mother in front of a moving car which serious injures her. Defendant can be charged with aggravated assault on a handicapped person.

3. Related Offenses

Other similar or related offenses include:

  1. North Carolina Criminal Law Chapter 14-286.2: Interfering with Emergency Communications
  2. North Carolina Criminal Law 14-32(b): Assault with a Deadly Weapon Inflicting Serious Injury
  3. North Carolina Criminal Law Chapter 14-33(a): Simple Assault Involving Physical Contact
  4. North Carolina Criminal Law 14-33(C)(2): Assault on a Female by a Male Person
  5. North Carolina Criminal Law 14-34: Assault by Pointing a Gun
  6. § 14-32.1. Assaults on individuals with a disability; punishments
4. Defenses to Aggravated Assault on a Handicapped Person

The Defendant has a viable defense under North Carolina law if he or she acted in self-defense and/or acted with justification or excuse.

Specific intent is an essential element of the criminal charge of Aggravated Assault on a Handicapped Person. As such, ignorance of the victim’s medical condition, disability, or “handicap” is a defense to the charges.

5. Penalties

The crime of aggravated assault on a handicapped person is a Class F felony with a maximum period of incarceration of 59 months in the North Carolina Department of Public Safety.

6. Criminal Defense for Aggravated Assault on a Handicapped Person

Assault If you have been charged with aggravated assault on a handicapped person, you should contact an experienced North Carolina criminal attorney immediately.

This is a very serious felony with the potential for active prison time.

A criminal attorney (criminal defense lawyer) can inform you of any defenses you may have and guide you through the potential consequences you are facing. A felony conviction of this magnitude can carry long term consequences, making it difficult to find and keep a good job.

Bill Powers is Board Certified Criminal Law Specialist by the National Board of Legal Specialty Certification / National Board of Trial Advocacy. Megan S. Powell and Chris J. Beddow are part of Bill Powers North Carolina criminal law defense team.

It’s imperative to begin your defense without delay. Please call 704-342-4357 immediately.

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