Do You Know the Difference Between Assault and Battery? - Part 2
Mar 14, 2018
Have you been charged with Assault? If so, you're in the right place.
North Carolina Attorney Bill Powers has been representing clients charged with assault and battery since 1992. In this episode, Attorney Powers answers the questions that matter to you when you when you've been charged with assault.
Bill Powers: ... inflicting serious injury. And maybe you did it in such an extent that you meant to kill him. So that single act can be described across a wide range of circumstances. And that's something that I tell clients, it's not all that unusual, you were just one step away from being to the next worst thing, that it could have gone the wrong way. And that's why they don't always understand, it's only a misdemeanor, why is the judge making me do X, Y, and Z? And I say, "Because you were lucky. The person didn't have to go the ER, or the person didn't almost bleed out," or something like that.
Robert Ingalls: Right. Perfect. One of the things, it's getting more fanfare in the news lately. I don't know if "fanfare" is quite the right word for it, but has gotten more air time, is domestic violence. You're seeing it in sports and things like that. What makes an assault into the area of domestic violence?
Bill Powers: Well, there are some specific statutory provisions, and normally you're thinking of assault on a female, but to be fair, there are assaults amongst the different sexes where one person may be assaulting the other. And "domestic", in the purest sense of the term, are people who are residing with one another or having relationships with one another, in some instances have children with one another. The reason that there are some things I'm distinguishing is that there's also an aspect of domestic violence involves our civil courts, and we talk about restraining orders. So it's not unusual for us to see an assault, whether it be a simple assault or an assault on female, which is a man striking a woman, the man's over 18 years old, of age. And there's a separation, and it's frankly more serious from a criminal sanction punishment.
Assault on a female is a more serious charge than a simple assault. So your sex, your genetic makeup, XY chromosomes, makes a difference, but there's also a possible consequence of a restraining order based on a domestic relationship if you have lived together or, even if you're not anymore, it may have a what we call a 50B ... it's North Carolina General Statute Chapter 50B ... versus a 50C, which may be people that maybe they're strangers. So we may have a restraining order, which is related to, but certainly different than, the criminal charges, and if you violate the restraining order, it's actually a separate criminal charge in and of itself. So domestic, normally we're referring to relationships where people have domiciled or lived together or had a dating relationship or children together.
Robert Ingalls: Another one that, it doesn't come up a lot, but I've heard it before, is sports officials, I guess when people attack the referee or something like that. Is that its own level?
Bill Powers: Well, there are certain categories and classes of offenses. There are also certain, I guess, categorizations or acknowledgements, if you will, of certain types of people or susceptibilities. So we see special protections and/or punishments or enhancements, if you will, to punishments for ... well, I already gave one example, assault on a female, male versus female, over the age of 18. But we also have assault on a child under a certain age. We also have assault on law enforcement officers. We also have assault on emergency personnel, EMS. We have assault on sports officials. They're in a weird position that they're not able to defend themselves.
Robert Ingalls: There's lots of angry people just right there near them.
Bill Powers: Oh sure, and people, I mean-
Robert Ingalls: People get very into their sports.
Bill Powers: The term "fan" comes from the word "fanatic". Yeah, and actually it kind of comes from this idea, when you think of a common law, where the fairness of the fight, for lack of a better term, or the injury. So if you have assault with a deadly weapon, that's more serious than if you and I engage in a tussle or a brawl with our fists, fisticuffs, mano y mano, literally hand on hand, is different that when I change the circumstances, and I pull out a weapon. And then I take advantage of a circumstance or a particular susceptibility. I've turned myself into more of an aggressor.
That's also why you have special laws regarding carrying a concealed weapon, because there's this old common law idea that it wasn't fair to get the drop on somebody. I guess if you and I fought with our fists it was one thing, but then if I have a weapon concealed, I now have placed myself in a stronger position, and in a higher, in a greater likelihood ... and I would be remiss in failing to note this ... a higher and greater likelihood of a more substantial level of injury.
Not to say that you cannot do some serious damage with fists. We see this on TV where people punch each other in the nose, and that can be a bloody, brutal lifelong-changing event that we get used to, kind of normalized on TV.
Robert Ingalls: Sure, until you get punched in the face yourself, and you're like, "This is not normal."
Bill Powers: Right, and you know, as Mike Tyson always said, "Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the face." But I've seen the pictures where maybe someone has some higher level of training, maybe they're an expert in ju-jitsu or something like that, or a black belt, and there are legal ...
Robert Ingalls: And that brings me to my next question that I had, is if someone is specially trained, like if someone has been an Army Ranger or if they know ju-jitsu, does that change the case for them?
Bill Powers: It can. That may fall more in a category of defenses and duty to withdraw. I can't think of one recently, I'm sure there's one out there. You do enough of these things and you forget, but I tend to see those on felony cases, where ...
Robert Ingalls: Go ahead. Oh sorry, I didn't mean to cut you off.
Bill Powers: No, it's all right.
Robert Ingalls: I think the one that always sticks out for me, and I've heard other mention as well, is the Nicolas Cage movie, "Con Air".
Bill Powers: "Con Air", right.