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Rosensteel Fleishman

Assault on a Female

If a male at least 18 years of age assaults a female, the crime of assault is elevated from a Class 2 misdemeanor to a Class A1 misdemeanor. This can mean a substantially harsher sentence for the offender, and it is not the type of charge that you want to navigate on your own. The sooner you contact Mr. Rosensteel, the sooner he can start looking for facts that can help you in your defense.

The crime of assault on a female is contained in G.S. 14-33(c)(2) which states that

Unless the conduct is covered under some other provision of law providing greater punishment, any person who commits any assault, assault and battery, or affray is guilty of a Class A1 misdemeanor if, in the course of the assault, assault and battery, or affray, he or she… [a]ssaults a female, he being a male person at least 18 years of age.

Although this offense can appear in domestic situations, the statute does not require that the man and woman involved have any relationship with each other.

The terms assault, battery and affray are not defined by North Carolina statute. Instead, their definitions come from North Carolina case law. The terms are generally defined as follows:

  • Assault: an intentional attempt, by violence, to do injury to the person of another, or a show of force or menace of violence sufficient to put a person of reasonable firmness in fear of immediate bodily harm.
  • Battery: an intentional, offensive touching of another person without that person’s consent.
  • Affray: a fight between two or more persons, in a public place, that causes terror to the people.

A simple assault is a Class 2 misdemeanor, the punishment for which ranges from 1-60 days, depending on whether you have any prior convictions. A person with no prior convictions can be sentenced to up to 30 days, but this punishment must be community punishment. Community punishment is punishment that does not include active jail time and also does not require drug treatment or special probation.

By contrast, a person convicted of assault on a female is guilty of a Class A1 misdemeanor. The punishment for a Class A1 misdemeanor ranges from 1-150 days, depending on prior convictions. However, while a person with no prior convictions might receive a community punishment, he might also receive an active punishment. This means that a person with no prior convictions can be sentenced to up to 60 days of jail time if he is found guilty of assault on a female.

As in any case of assault, a person charged with with assault on a female can raise the affirmative defense of self-defense. When a person raises an affirmative defense, instead of denying responsibility for the alleged assault, he alleges further facts that negate his criminal liability. One common affirmative defense for assault is self-defense. A person raising the affirmative defense of self-defense is not saying that he did not commit the assault but that he committed the assault because he was protecting himself from injury.

To successfully use the affirmative defense of self-defense, a person must show that:

  • A reasonable person would believe (and the person charged did believe) that such action was necessary under the circumstances.
  • The amount of force used was reasonable and not excessive (this takes into account the size, age and strength of the victim and the fierceness of the assault on the person charged).
  • The person charged was not the aggressor, meaning that he did not voluntarily enter the fight.

North Carolina statute also addresses the use of evidence of former threats when a defendant raises the affirmative defense of self-defense. G.S. 14-33.1 states that

In any case of assault, assault and battery, or affray in which the plea of the defendant is self-defense, evidence of former threats against the defendant by the person alleged to have been assaulted by him, if such threats shall have been communicated to the defendant before the altercation, shall be competent as bearing upon the reasonableness of the claim of apprehension by the defendant of bodily harm, and also as bearing upon the amount of force which reasonably appeared necessary to the defendant, under the circumstances, to repel his assailant.

Now that we’ve examined the basics of the crime of assault on a female, let’s look at a couple of examples of this crime. A 2001 case from the North Carolina Court of Appeals, State v. West involved a defendant who was charged with assault on a female. The defendant had complimented a female coworker on her looks and then proceeded to reach under her jacket and place his hand on her breast. At trial, the jury was instructed to find the defendant guilty if the State proved

First, that the [D]efendant intentionally used force, however slight, to cause contact with the alleged victim. Second, that such bodily contact actually offended a reasonable sense of her personal dignity. Third, that such bodily contact occurred without the alleged victim’s consent.

The defendant argued that the instructions should have defined the crime as “the unlawful application of force to the person of another by the aggressor himself, or by some substance which he puts in motion.” The court held that both definitions were correct statements of law and that “the trial court’s jury instructions were proper as they presented in substance what Defendant had requested.”

An older case from the North Carolina Supreme Court, State v. Ingram (1953), also involved the a man charged with assaulting a female. In that case, the defendant “leered” at a female as he drove by in a car on the road. The Court held that these facts were insufficient to make out a case of assault. It reasoned that although the female was frightened by the defendant leering at her from the car, her fear “alone [was] insufficient to constitute an assault in the absence of a menace of violence of such character, under the circumstances, as was calculated to put a person of ordinary firmness in fear of immediate injury and cause such person to refrain from doing an act he would otherwise have done, or to do something he would not have done except for the offer or threat of violence.” Therefore, “a pedestrian may [not] be assaulted by a look, however frightening, from a person riding in an automobile some distance away.”

The charge of assault on a female is not insignificant. If you have been charged with assault on a female, contact an attorney at Rosensteel Fleishman, PLLC (704) 714-1450, to discuss your options.