Is Assault by Strangulation a Felony Charge in North Carolina?

The crime of assault by strangulation is considered a felony in North Carolina. Felonies are considered more serious crimes, and penalties include a jail sentence of at least one year. Prosecutors take assault charges seriously, and if you were convicted of assault by strangulation, you could have faced harsh penalties, including a jail or prison sentence. If you have been charged with felony assault by strangulation, you must contact an attorney because the penalties are so severe. Speaking to an attorney as soon as possible can help you protect yourself and your freedom. 

What is the Definition of Assault by Strangulation?

North Carolina Criminal Law Chapter 14-32.4 sets forth the crime of "Felony Strangulation." If you have been charged with assault by strangulation, prosecutors must prove three elements beyond a reasonable doubt to convict you. Your defense attorney can begin investigating and gathering evidence that the prosecution cannot prove the required elements. Depending on the fact of your unique case, there are several legal defenses you can make. 

For example, if your constitutional rights have been violated during the search and seizure process, you may be able to request the court to dismiss evidence gathered during the arrest. You may be able to prove that she was not in the location where the alleged incident occurred by providing an alibi. Additionally, there may have been witnesses who can testify that assault by strangulation did not occur.

Assault on Another Person

The prosecution must prove that you assaulted another person. The assault must be an overt act or an attempt to act with force or physical violence that causes bodily injury. 

Infliction of Physical Injury

The second element prosecutors must prove is that an inflection of physical injury occurred. Prosecutors cannot prove this element if you barely touched someone or made physical contact but did not injure them. They will need to prove that there were bruises, scrapes, or other physical injuries to prove that the infliction of physical injury occurred. The following physical injuries can be used to verify that the infliction of physical injury occurred:

  • Cuts
  • Bruising
  • Scratches
  • Abrasions
  • Petechiae of the eyeballs, eyelids, or both
  • Drooping of the face
  • Sore throat
  • Raspy voice
  • Loss of consciousness 

Finally, the prosecution must prove that strangulation occurred. Strangulation can include the act of wrapping hands around another person's throat, causing them to lose consciousness. Additionally, strangulation occurs when there is a less violent act, such as applying pressure to a person's neck to make it difficult for them to breathe. When the element of strangulation has been proven, the court will infer there was sufficient violence or force to establish that an assault on another person occurred. 

Penalties for Assault by Strangulation

The penalties for assault by strangulation are severe as the crime is considered a Class H felony. If you are convicted, your sentence will depend on multiple factors, including your prior criminal record, if any, and any aggravating or mitigating factors. You could face a jail sentence of between four and 25 months if convicted. Additionally, you may be subjected to fines and probation and have difficulty finding employment and housing because you will have a permanent criminal record and be considered a convicted felon.

The crime of felony assault by strangulation can involve two distinct levels of punishment. If the strangulation results in serious bodily injury, you can face more serious Class F felony charges. Serious bodily injury can include any of the following factors:

  • Coma
  • Permanent disfigurement
  • Injuries that create the risk of death
  • Permanent impairment or loss of a bodily organ or member
  • Protracted impairment or loss of a bodily organ or member
  • An injury that results in prolonged medical hospitalization 
Contact a Charlotte Criminal Defense Attorney Today

Due to the nature of strangulation cases and the severity of the penalties, working with an experienced attorney is important to protecting your rights and defending yourself. Most cases are focused on the defendant's initial contact with the victim. An investigation into the incident could uncover evidence that you were defending yourself, intoxicated, or could not have been at the incident's location. 

Victim recantation can be common in these cases. As a defendant, you are entitled to due process under the law. If you were convicted of family strangulation, you would face a lifetime of negative impacts beyond imprisonment and probation. Contact the skilled attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, to schedule a free case evaluation and learn more about how we can fight for you.