Assault on a Firefighter or Medical Personnel

Handcuffs and Gavel

Assault on a firefighter or medical personnel occurs when a person commits an assault or affray on a firefighter, an emergency medical technician, any other emergency health provider, a medical responder, or an emergency department physician, physician's assistant, nurse or licensed nurse practitioner who is discharging or attempting to discharge an official duty and inflicts physical injury. 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 on a firefighter or emergency medical personnel differs from other forms of assault (such as simple assault or assault on a female) in that the assault must occur on a firefighter or emergency personnel who is discharging his official duties and results in physical injury. The terms firefighter, emergency medical technician, medical responder and physical injury are not defined by statute.

Assault on a firefighter or emergency medical professional is a class I felony under North Carolina General Statute 14-34.6(a). The maximum punishment under the law is 24 months incarceration.

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