In North Carolina, the laws defining assault go into great detail. 

Who the victim is, the use of a weapon and the intent of the offender may affect whether it is a felony or misdemeanor, and how severe penalties are. 

A disability 

Simple assault, simple assault and battery, and simple affray are Class 2 misdemeanors. A conviction could result in spending up to 60 days in jail. However, if the victim has a disability, the same action may be a Class A1 misdemeanor, with a maximum sentence of 150 days in jail. Aggravated assault or assault and battery may result in a Class F felony if the victim has a disability. Class F felony incarceration could last from 10 to 41 months. 

The term “disability” refers to a physical or mental condition that could affect someone’s ability to defend himself or herself. 

The use of a firearm 

Intentionally shooting someone is a criminal offense, of course. However, simply neglecting firearm safety can also result in a criminal charge. Pointing a gun at someone, whether or not it has bullets in it, is a Class A1 misdemeanor if the person holding the gun does it without legal authority to do so. It does not matter whether the person holding the gun is pointing it as a joke. The act is illegal. 

Discharging a firearm into an occupied building, vehicle, boat or structure could be a Class E or Class D felony, but if the act causes a serious injury, it is a Class C felony. 

Malice aforethought 

If a person, without malicious intent, maims someone through castration or by cutting, slitting or biting off the nose, lip or ear, or a limb, it is a Class E felony. Incarceration may last 15 to 63 months. The same action, but with malicious intent, could be a Class C felony with incarceration lasting 44 to 182 months. 

When someone intentionally and maliciously maims another with acid, or attacks him or her in secret, the offense is a Class E felony. Maliciously cutting out or disabling the tongue or an eye of another person, or helping someone to do this, is a Class C felony. 

Malice aforethought essentially means premeditation, according to the Legal Information Institute.