Assault Investigations in Elizabeth City

Facing an assault charge means the possibility of a criminal record. Even if the incident that led to the charge seems minor or completely explainable, working with a skilled defense attorney to understand and protect your rights is essential.

Having legal representation during the investigation phase can result in a more favorable outcome. A legal professional from Parks Zeigler, PLLC can represent you throughout an assault investigation in Elizabeth City and defend you against any resulting charge.

Understanding Assault Charges

In many states assault and battery are two different crimes. However, in North Carolina, they are considered the same. The law does not define assault, so the courts rely on the traditional definition.

A simple assault is any intentional conduct that results in unwanted physical contact or puts a person in fear of imminent bodily harm. Some people mistakenly believe that they have not assaulted someone if they have not caused them bodily harm, but it is the absence of consent or the existence of reasonable fear of harm that determines whether an assault has occurred. This means an assault can occur even when there is no contact. For example, angrily raising your fist at someone is an assault if you are close enough to punch them, even if you do not actually cause them harm.

If you were involved in any kind of altercation and another involved party is alleging assault, it is critical to contact an Elizabeth City attorney immediately.

Keys to Proving Assault

There are several critical elements of an assault. The accused must have acted intentionally. If their intentional conduct resulted in physical contact, the contact must have been unwelcome and without the alleged victim’s consent. If there was no contact, the accused’s intentional conduct must have caused the alleged victim to experience reasonable fear.

An assault investigation must produce proof of the required elements for a prosecutor to secure a conviction on an assault charge. A skilled Elizabeth City assault defense attorney can conduct a parallel investigation looking for evidence to challenge the notions that the accused’s actions were intentional, show that the alleged victim did not consent to the contact, or argue that their fear was unreasonable.


Accidental contact is not an assault. For example, you have not assaulted someone if you trip and fall into them, even if the contact creates fear in them that they might be injured. It is not an assault even if they sustained an injury, because the contact was not deliberate and there was no intent to cause harm or fear.


When the alleged victim consented to the contact, no assault has occurred. However, when the alleged victim did not consent, it does not matter if they did not experience bodily harm. Any unwelcome touching can be an assault.

Proving consent or lack of consent is often a matter of the credibility of the accused and the alleged victim. Sometimes circumstantial evidence can be helpful in establishing that an alleged victim gave consent to the touching.

Reasonable Fear of Imminent Harm

An assault has not occurred if there was no physical contact and the alleged victim did not experience a reasonable fear of bodily harm. Shaking a fist at someone from across the street—too far to make physical contact—is probably not an assault, because there is no reasonable threat of imminent physical harm. On the other hand, throwing a rock at someone from across the street is an assault even when the rock misses its target because the target’s fear of getting hit would be reasonable.

Defending an Accused Against an Assault Charge

According to North Carolina Criminal Code §14-33, assault is a Class 2 misdemeanor, with the potential for jail time and hefty fines upon conviction. It is important to mount a vigorous defense.

An Elizabeth City assault defense attorney can provide alternate explanations for the incident during the course of an investigation. Any explanation that calls the accused’s intent and the reasonableness of the alleged victim’s fear into question may be effective against an assault charge. Video from surveillance cameras, witness statements, and medical evidence can all be useful evidence.

Additionally, sometimes there is a legal justification for an action that could be called an assault. In an appropriate case a legal professional may present evidence showing self-defense or defense of others was the motive for the assault.

Contact an Elizabeth City Attorney if You are Being Investigated for Assault

You must take an assault charge seriously, even when the incident that led to the charge seems minor. A conviction creates a criminal record and could lead to jail time and other consequences.

Contact the lawyers at Parks Zeigler, PLLC if you are the target of an assault investigation in Elizabeth City. Our team will use our knowledge and skills to achieve the best result possible under the circumstances. Get in touch today.

Areas We Serve

Centrally located on the waterfront in downtown Elizabeth City, our team provides quality legal representation across the following counties in the Northeast North Carolina region.

  • Camden County
  • Gates County
  • Chowan County
  • Pasquotank County
  • Currituck County
  • Perquimans County
  • Dare County

Also serving only criminal and traffic cases in the following counties:

  • Beaufort County
  • Tyrrell County
  • Martin County
  • Washington County

Parks Zeigler, PLLC – Attorneys At Law

Parks Zeigler, PLLC – Attorneys At Law N/a
4768 Euclid Road,
Suite 103

Virginia Beach, Virginia 23462
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524 Albemarle Drive,
Suite 200

Chesapeake, Virginia 23322
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200 N. Water Street,
Suite 2A

Elizabeth City, NC 27909
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