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A person commits a simple assault in North Carolina when he or she (1) commits an assault (2) on another. 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.
Simple assault is a class 2 misdemeanor under North Carolina General Statute 14-33(a). The maximum punishment is 60 days incarceration and the potential of up to a $1,000 fine.