The main difference between simple assault and aggravated assault is the severity and intent of the act. Both assault charges involve causing fear or physical harm to someone else.
The consequences and nature of the assault determine how the crime is classified.
Simple assault: Basic elements
Simple assault is a less severe form of assault and often involves minor physical contact or threats that lead a person to genuinely fear imminent bodily harm. Examples include a shove in a heated argument and verbal threats of violence. While it may not result in severe physical harm, the court system does not take it lightly.
Aggravated assault: Increased severity
Aggravated assault is considered a more serious crime. This is because this charge is applied when there are aggravating factors present. These include:
- Use of a weapon: The assailant uses a deadly weapon during the act, even if they don’t cause serious injury.
- Severity of harm: The victim suffers severe bodily injuries, including broken bones or injuries requiring surgery or hospitalization.
- Intent: The act is premeditated or done with the intent to commit a more serious crime, like rape or robbery.
Consequences and penalties of simple and aggravated assault
The penalties for these crimes differ based on their classification. Simple assault typically results in a misdemeanor charge, with consequences including probation, fines, community service or a short jail sentence.
Aggravated assault, due to its severe nature, often leads to a felony charge. Convicts may face extensive jail time, larger fines and mandatory rehabilitation or anger management courses.
Understanding the distinction between simple and aggravated assault is essential for anyone navigating the North Carolina legal system. Knowing the factors that distinguish between these charges is important. This information will help you understand your rights and legal options.