Assault by pointing a gun is a Class A1 misdemeanor in North Carolina, which is the highest level misdemeanor. A person is guilty of assault by pointing a gun when he or she points a gun at another.
It does not matter if the person pointed the gun at someone in jest. It also does not matter if the gun was actually loaded or not. The simple act of pointing a firearm at a person is enough for the police the charge a person.
But how is it assault if the accused never actually fires the gun or touches the alleged victim? Under common law, assault is the threat of imminent bodily harm coupled with the apparent ability to cause harm. Therefore, a person does not actually have to physically harm the other to be charged with assault by pointing a gun.
If a person points a gun in self-defense, the police or the court should be willing to take this into consideration. However, there are only a few instances where pointing a gun at another is a valid form of self-defense. Generally, self-defense must be equal to the perceived threat. Thus, if someone is simply shouting mean words, this is likely not enough to justify pointing a gun. Likewise, if someone cuts another off on I-40, this is not enough to permit pointing a gun out of anger. Each situation is different and has unique facts and circumstances, and law enforcement and the court will consider these facts when determining whether a person was justified in pointing a gun.
The criminal defense lawyers at Guirguis Law are experienced in handling misdemeanor assault cases. Contact us at (919) 832-0500 for a free consultation on your Durham or Wake County misdemeanor charge. We may be able to help guide you through the court system and recommend on how to either have the charge dismissed or reduce your punishment.