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Simple Assault Involving Physical Contact

Definition and Elements of the Crime

Involving Physical Contact The crime of simple assault involving physical contact under the North Carolina Criminal Law Chapter 14-33(a) is the unlawful touching or application of force to the body of another person.

Assault is not specifically defined by statute and therefore relies on the traditional Common Law crime of assault for definition. A battery is an assault in North Carolina.

To prove a defendant committed the crime of simple assault, a prosecutor must establish the following prima facie elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • The defendant assaulted the victim
  • The defendant acted intentionally
  • The defendant acted without legal justification or excus

Simple assault is defined as either:

  • An intentional application of force, no matter how slight, directly or indirectly, to the body of another person without their consent.
  • An intentional, offensive touching of the another person without consent.

Application of force is the touching of another person that is intended to cause harm, inflict injury, or to serve as an offense to another. That touching, “however slight,” may violate the law if done so with anger, rude intent, or the intent to cause harm.

Injury, serious injury, serious bodily injury, pain, or actual harm are not required to prove the crime of simple assault involving physical contact. An inadvertent or unintentional touching of the person of another is not a criminal assault.

“Attempted Assault” is a crime in North Carolina.

Example of Simple Assault Involving Physical Contact

An office co-worker approaches a fellow employee and pushes him in the back, causing the victim to temporarily lose his balance. Despite there being no injury or infliction of bodily harm, the defendant could still be charged with simple assault involving physical contact.

Defenses to Simple Assault involving Physical Contact

The crime of assault is not defined by statute in North Carolina. It is a Common Law offense. Defenses recognized under the Common Law may be lawfully asserted.

Self Defense: In North Carolina, you are allowed to defend yourself from assault and assault and battery. Self Defense is limited to the application or use of force reasonably necessary to defend yourself from harm or injury. The amount, nature, and extent of use of force to defend yourself must be reasonable. Any fear of immediate bodily harm or injury must also be reasonable.

Defense of Others: You are allowed to defend others if there exists legal justification, cause, or excuse to do so. The extent of force necessary to defend others must be reasonable and not excessive.

Defense of Property: You are allowed to defend or protect your property, which may include both real property and personal property. Only the use of reasonable force is authorized in defending your property.

Consent: Voluntary consent to an act that would otherwise constitute a Simple Assault Involving Physical Contact is a valid Common Law defense.


Under North Carolina Criminal Law 14-33(c), assault is a misdemeanor offense classified as a Class 2 misdemeanor. The punishment for a Class 2 misdemeanor may include a period of incarceration of up to 60 days.

Punishments for assault may also include costs of court, fines, restitution, community service, alcohol or drug treatment, alcohol monitoring, drug testing and random urinalysis, anger management treatment, psychiatric assessments and treatment, and supervised or unsupervised probation.

Criminal Defense for Simple Assault Cases

Assault Cases If you or someone you love has been arrested or charged with assault, seek legal counsel immediately. Timing can be key, as there often is important evidence to gather from witnesses including statements, photographs, recordings, text messages, social media posts, and emails.

A criminal conviction for assault can cause substantial problems in the future. A criminal record may prevent future employer from offering a good job, or otherwise deter a landlord from renting to you, if they perform a criminal background check on you.

Bill Powers is Board Certified Criminal Law Specialist by the National Board of Legal Specialty Certification / National Board of Trial Advocacy. It’s imperative to begin your defense without delay.

Call our Charlotte Criminal Defense Lawyers NOW: 704-342-4357

Legal consultations for all criminal matters are free of charge. Everything you tell a criminal lawyer is strictly confidential. You may also reach Bill Powers directly by email: Bill@CarolinaAttorneys.com

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