North Carolina Assault by Strangulation

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In North Carolina there are many different types of assault charges, ranging from misdemeanor simple assault, all the way up to felony assault inflicting serious bodily injury. One of the more serious assault-based charges is assault by strangulation, which is classified as a class H felony.

There are three elements to the crime of assault by strangulation:

  • An assault on another person
  • Inflicts physical injury
  • By strangulation

The state must prove each of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict the defendant. We will now take a look at each of these elements individually.

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The Assault Element

First, the assault element. While North Carolina recognizes two different kinds of assault, the only one that can be used for this charge is where there is an overt act or attempt to act with force or violence which causes physical injury. It is important to know that where there is strangulation the court will infer force or violence thereby satisfying this type of assault.

Inflicting Physical Injury

The second element, that of inflicting physical injury. The court has said that in order to satisfy this element the state must prove that there was more than just physical contact. The statutes consider physical injury to be cuts, bruises, scrapes, or other physical injury that does not constitute serious injury.
This means that you cannot be found to have caused physical injury just by touching someone, however, if the contact leaves a bruise or something similar then the court will likely find physical injury.


Finally, the court will determine whether the cause of the physical injury was strangulation. Strangulation can be as much as wrapping your hands around the throat of another and applying pressure until they lose consciousness, or as little as grabbing someone by the throat causing them to have difficulty breathing.

Again, it must be more than merely touching the persons throat in order to qualify as strangulation, but once pressure is applied North Carolina courts have often determined the action to be strangulation.

Assault by strangulation is a class H felony which means that regardless of the defendant’s prior record, they are eligible to go to prison. Furthermore, there is a maximum possible punishment of up to 39 months in prison.

After a conviction there are also other effects of a conviction for assault by strangulation; under current North Carolina Law a conviction for assault by strangulation is unable to be expunged and would render the defendant unable to receive any other expungements. A felony conviction in North Carolina also suspends many of your rights and licensing privileges.

If you have been charged with assault by strangulation or have any questions please contact one of our criminal law attorneys. Our attorneys have the knowledge and expertise to help you protect your rights.