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Assault by Strangulation

Woman with Signs of Strangulation

Assault inflicting physical injury by strangulation occurs when a person commits an assault on another and inflicts physical injury by strangulation. While statue does not specifically define "assault," common law creates a clear understanding of assault in North Carolina. According to State v. Roberts, 270 N.C. 655, 658 (1967), assault is any overt act or attempt or the unequivocal appearance of attempt, with force or violence, to immediately physically injury another person, with the show of force or menace of violence being sufficient to put a reasonable person in fear of immediate physical injury. In other words, assault is any action which shows force or violence and causes a reasonable person to fear for he/she will suffer immediate physical injury.

North Carolina also recognizes battery as a form of assault. According to State v. West, 146 N.C. App. 741, 744 (2001), battery includes the application of force, no matter how slight, directly or indirectly, to another. The most common example of a battery is one person hitting or punching another person. Since this form of assault includes an actual touching, fear from the receiving party is not necessary.

Assault by strangulation differs from other forms of assault (such as simple assault or assault on a female) in that assault by strangulation requires resulting physical injury by strangulation. While the statute does not define "physical injury," case law has included cuts, bruises, and scrapes as forms of physical injury. The statute also does not define "strangulation." Assault by strangulation is a class H felony under North Carolina General Statute 14-32.4(b). The maximum punishment is 39 months incarceration.

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