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Assault on a Government Officer

Police Arresting a Man

Assault on a government officer occurs when a person (1) commits an assault (2) on an officer or employee of the state or any political subdivision of the state (3) who is discharging or attempting to discharge his or her official duties.

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 government officer or employee differs from other forms of assault (such as simple assault or assault on a female) in that the assault must occur on a government employee who is discharging his official duties. Assault on a government officer or employee is a class A1 misdemeanor under North Carolina General Statute 14-33(c). The maximum under the law is 150 days incarceration and a discretionary fine not limited by statute.

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