Assault by Pointing a Gun
Assault by pointing a gun in North Carolina is, in itself, a misdemeanor criminal charge that occurs when a person intentionally points a gun at another.
Misdemeanor assault charges can also serve as a legal basis for additional, more serious felony charges depending on the fact-pattern of the allegations.
"The criminal statute regarding pointing a gun does not differentiate between whether the gun was pointed in fun or otherwise or whether the gun was loaded or not."
- David Courie, Cumberland County Defense Attorney
There are several public policy reasons for that.
For example, the “victim” of such type of assault may be legally authorized to use deadly force in response to a perceived threat on their life.
So even if the weapon is unloaded, someone may reasonably defend themselves in such circumstances, not knowing or being aware of the fact their life is not in actual danger.
Assault by pointing a gun is a Class A1 misdemeanor under North Carolina General Statute 14-43.
The maximum punishment under the law is 150 days incarceration.
The Judge may also impose things like probation, restitution, costs of court, and fines, if convicted.
It also can result in a permanent criminal record and the inability to obtain a handgun permit or maintain a Concealed Weapon permit.
That’s serious stuff!What Does “A1 Misdemeanor” Mean?
North Carolina has laws on the books regarding different types of criminal acts.
Assault charges are a type of offense whereby the offense itself, the “assault,” is not actually defined by statute. Battery is another example.
Assault is a Common Law offense, as is Battery.
As one of the first 13 Colonies of Great Britain, North Carolina still has some aspects of the British Common Law.
Certain criminal charges, like assault, come from that history of Common Law offenses.
North Carolina also has Criminal Laws passed by the North Carolina General Assembly and ratified by the Governor of the North Carolina.
Those are called “statutory offenses.”
Criminal offenses, and ordinarily defining what is deemed illegal and the punishments for breaking the law, is recorded in the North Carolina General Statutes.
So while both simple assault and “assault and battery” are what defense lawyers may refer to as traditional, Common Law offenses, Assault by Pointing a Gun is specifically enumerated under Chapter 14 of the Criminal Laws.
The term “assault” is used in the name of the offense; but, the misdemeanor criminal charge does not specifically define “assault.”
N.C.G.S. Chapter 14-34 further points out that if convicted, the offense is classified as an A1 Misdemeanor.
That is generally considered the most serious type of misdemeanor under the NC Criminal Laws.
Any more serious criminal act, including repeat, habitual misdemeanor charges, may could be prosecuted as a felony in the right circumstances.
The sentencing Judge, assuming there is a conviction after trial or entry of a plea of Guilty, is given a broad discretion in imposing an appropriate sentence.
That means the Court (the Judge) may sentence the convicted offender (if you plead guilty to the charge that is also considered a conviction) to a sentence not to exceed 150 days of incarceration (jail).How are Misdemeanor Charges Handled in NC?
Both felony and misdemeanor charges in North Carolina are subject to sentencing “Acts” as established by the General Assembly.
Even if a traditional common law offense, the General Assembly has set forth punishments depending on the Prior Record Level of the offender and class of offense.
Defense lawyers regularly refer to what may be called a “sentencing grid” for both misdemeanors and felonies.
There is a misdemeanor punishment chart or “grid.” North Carolina also employs a Felony Sentencing Grid as part of structured sentencing.
Punishments in North Carolina, except for a few narrow exceptions, often consider the “PRL” or the “Prior Record Level” of the defendant.
On exception involves Drug Trafficking charges, where your prior record (or lack therefore) is not considered in determining prison time.
The Court may consider both the existence of a record and a clean record, as the case may be.
Felony sentencing is a bit more complicated, with six (6) prior record levels set forth.
Misdemeanor sentencing only has three (3) prior record levels.
As such, there a generally four different levels or types of misdemeanor charges: Level 3, Level 2, Level 1, and Level A1.
Level 3 is the least serious type of misdemeanor offense. Level A1 applies to more serious, aggravated types of misdemeanor charges in North Carolina.
And there are three prior record levels denoted for misdemeanor charges.
"The type of charge is often referred to as the ‘Class of the Offense’ and the prior record of the Defendant may be explained by describing the ‘Level’ of the offender."
- David Courie, Criminal Law in Fayetteville NC
Assault by Pointing of Gun falls into the Class of Level A1.
That makes the offense subject to the same type of punishment as Assault on a Female, Assault on a Government Official, Violation of Domestic Violence Protective Order (50B Order), and Assault with a Deadly Weapon (misdemeanor).
Each Case in Different
"Assault by Pointing a Gun is a serious criminal offense in North Carolina and one that deserves the attention of an experienced defense lawyer."
- David Courie, Fayetteville Defense Attorney
Like each person accused of criminal charges, each fact-pattern and case is different.
We believe it makes sense to consult with a criminal defense attorney immediately.
As such, we do our best to make ourselves available for consultation after-hours and on weekends.
Legal consultations for criminal defense representation at Beaver Courie are confidential.
What you tell us is confidential. That means our defense lawyers, paralegals, and professional legal staff keep secrets.
The attorney-client privilege, the rule regarding confidentiality, applies even if you choose not to retain the firm for legal services.
As such, we often conduct a “conflict check” to confirm our availability for representation prior to asking questions or going into great detail about the facts of your case.
Call Fayetteville Criminal Law David Courie NOW at: 910-323-4600