Assault is a serious crime, but it is even more serious when you assault a police officer. A relatively minor crime will quickly escalate to a felony if you assault a member of law enforcement. Sometimes, assault on a police officer happens during an arrest. If you resist arrest and assault a police officer, you will be charged accordingly. What started out as one offense may have become several or more serious charges. Assault of a police officer or other protected person is a felony in North Carolina.
Who is a Protected Person?
North Carolina law defines a protected person as a government official. Government officials are protected, and if an assault occurs, it is a felony charge rather than a misdemeanor. Police officers are the most common government officials that people encounter on a regular basis. However, there are other government officials that are also covered under the law. These include firefighters, first responders, medical personnel, EMTs, probation officers, and members of the National Guard.
Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “Am I allowed to videotape an interaction with police? Can they make me stop filming?”
What are Common Assault Charges?
There are several types of assault charges that might apply to a particular situation. Assault typically refers to the unlawful threat or attempt to touch someone unlawfully. If you actually touch someone, the charges include battery. Battery charges may apply even if the other person was not seriously injured. In the case of a police officer, many situations could be considered assault. For example, spitting on a police officer could be assault. If you hit an officer, you will be charged with assault.
Other assault charges involve the use of a weapon. There are specific statutes that prohibit the use of a gun or deadly weapon on a protected person. The charges are felonies, particularly when the victim is part of the protected person category.
Penalties for Assault on a Police Officer
The penalties can be severe for a conviction for assault on a police officer. The consequences depend greatly on the class felony with which you were convicted. Class I is the least serious, with penalties of up to a year in prison. The most serious are Class E felonies, which can carry a prison sentence of up to 63 months. The penalties depend on aggravating and mitigating factors. It is important to note that you will face these penalties only upon conviction. Many times, assault on a police officer is only one of several or more charges that stem from the same event. You could face several charges that could all carry stiff penalties if you are found guilty.
Defending Assault Charges
If you are charged with assault on a police officer or other protected person, you will want to provide an aggressive defense. A skilled criminal defense attorney will often help. There are some instances where the charges could be reduced, or a plea deal might be possible. Sometimes, the evidence against you is weak, or the evidence must be omitted from the case if it was obtained improperly. Your defense attorney will review the matter and assist you with your case.
An assault conviction could result in penalties that include a lengthy jail sentence, fines, and more. If you are charged with assault it is helpful to seek an experienced attorney to defend your case and protect your rights. If you have been charged with a crime, we can help. Get a phone, video or in-person consultation by calling at (704) 370-2828 to speak with our detail-oriented and well-versed lawyers with offices in Charlotte, Lake Norman, and Monroe, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today or find additional resources here.
The criminal defense attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC make it their mission to zealously defend their clients on a wide range of criminal matters at both the state and federal levels. These matters may include any charge from traffic offenses; DWI/DUI; drug charges (from simple possession to possession with intent to distribute and trafficking); gun permit denials; weapons offenses; and property crimes (larceny, breaking and entering, robbery, fraud, embezzlement, white collar offenses); to sexually related offenses (indecent exposure; sexual assault, crimes against nature, removal from sex offender registry); and violent crimes (domestic violence; assault; manslaughter; homicide, murder). Other legal issues that Arnold & Smith, PLLC criminal clients may be facing include restraining orders, restraining order and probation violations, expungements; appeals; and immigration issues related to criminal charges. Our criminal defense attorneys are passionate about ensuring that individuals empower themselves by being informed about their constitutional rights and stand at the ready to fight in the defense of those facing criminal charges.
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