Felony Charges in Charlotte
Felonies are crimes that legislators, police officers, and the courts take considerable steps to prevent and punish. Lower-level offenses, class I and H felonies, in particular, may result in a few months of imprisonment and probation. However, these crimes also increase to the level of a class A felony, which is punished by life in prison or by death for individuals over the age of 18, and only by life in prison if the person is under the age of 18. A majority of felony crimes are classified as class I through class B1. If convicted of a felony, you can be imprisoned for years and face many harsh collateral consequences following your release.
It is important to do everything you can to try to avoid a felony conviction. You always have the right to an attorney, and you may utilize a public defender. However, public defenders are often extremely overworked. Despite their best efforts, their heavy caseload makes it difficult for them to be available as much as you may like. The best thing you can do for yourself is to hire a dedicated criminal defense attorney. Contact our felony lawyers at Randall & Stump, PLLC today to discuss your rights during a free case consultation, or to learn more about the criminal justice process in North Carolina.
Court Jurisdiction for Felonies in North Carolina
Misdemeanor charges and felony charges are handled very differently in North Carolina. If you are charged with a misdemeanor in state court, your case goes through the district court system. Felony charges in Charlotte may begin in district court, however, after a waiver of probable cause or indictment by a grand jury, they move to superior court. Felony cases have a more complicated court process and if you go to trial, must be decided on by a jury of 12 individuals, unless you waive your right to a jury trial. To learn more about felony court in North Carolina, do not hesitate to contact a Charlotte felony attorney for help.
The Felony Court Process
If you’ve been arrested for a felony, you should contact an experienced lawyer for felony charges right away. You should have legal representation as soon as possible. After a felony arrest, you will have an initial appearance before a judge, a bond hearing regarding your requirements for release from jail, and a probable cause hearing in the district court. You should have an attorney for all stages of your case.
If the judge finds there is probable cause after a probable cause hearing or if you waive your probable cause hearing, the case then moves to superior court. In some cases, the district attorney’s office will present your case to the grand jury before your probable cause date, in an effort to obtain an indictment, which also moves your case to superior court. In North Carolina, grand jury proceedings are secret. If they believe there is probable cause that you committed the crime, they will indict you. You do not get to defend yourself during this process.
If the grand jury indicts you, your criminal charges will move forward to a superior court. Once your case goes to superior court, your felony lawyer may prepare for trial or attempt to negotiate a plea bargain. Ultimately, the decision to accept a plea or proceed to trial is only a decision the client can make. If you do not accept a plea deal, your lawyer will prepare for trial. Throughout this time, there are many various status conferences and pre-trial hearings, during which your felony lawyer will represent you.
If you have questions about the court process for felonies in North Carolina, call one of our felony lawyers for help today. (980) 237-4579.
North Carolina Felony Sentencing
If you are facing felony charges in Mecklenburg County, you need to be aware of the potential punishments you face. You can be sentenced to a significant term of incarceration in state prison. You may be required to follow numerous conditions during probation or post-release supervision. You also face significant fines, court costs, and restitution to the victims of the crime. If you are convicted of a sex offense, you may be required to register as a sex offender.
Regarding incarceration, the potential length of your imprisonment for most felonies is outlined in the North Carolina felony sentencing chart, also called a punishment grid. There are 10 classes of felonies. There are also six prior record levels: level I through VI. These levels are based on points derived from information on your criminal record.
It is important to note that while you may receive an active punishment, you may also be sentenced to probation instead of incarceration.
North Carolina provides three ranges for incarceration: the mitigated range, presumptive range, and the aggravated range. For many cases, the judge will review the presumptive range. If there are mitigating factors within your case, you may receive a punishment within the lower, mitigated range. However, if there are aggravating factors that make your actions more egregious, then you may suffer a harsher penalty within the aggravated range. Contact the felony lawyers at Randall & Stump, PLLC at (980) 237-4579 to learn more about these punishment ranges, and how your alleged offense may be classified.
The mitigated, presumptive, and aggravated ranges for each felony class, from least to most serious, are:
- Class I Felony- three to eight months, four to 10 months, or six to 12 months
- Class H Felony- four to 16 months, five to 20 months, or six to 25 months
- Class G Felony- eight to 20 months, 10 to 25 months, or 13 to 31 months
- Class F Felony- 10 to 26 months, 13 to 33 months, or 16 to 41 months
- Class E Felony- 15 to 40 months, 20 to 50 months, or 25 to 63 months
- Class D Felony- 38 to 103 months, 51 to 128 months, or 64 to 160 months
- Class C Felony- 44 to 117 months, 58 to 146 months, or 73 to 182 months
- Class B2 Felony- 94 to 251 months, 125 to 314 months, or 157 to 393 months
- Class B1 Felony- 144 to 386 months, 192 to 483 months, or 240 to life without parole
- Class A Felony- Life without parole or death
The punishment for class I felonies in NC is the least harsh. The maximum duration of incarceration, which requires a extensive criminal record and aggravating factors to be present, is up to one year. The punishment for each felony except class A offenses varies drastically, based on the facts and circumstances of the case For a majority of cases where a judge orders an active sentence, you can get between four to 25 months. However, many class H felonies don’t get incarceration. For a majority of cases where a judge orders an active sentence, the term of incarceration for a conviction is up to 25 months.
To discuss the potential term of incarceration for your case, contact the felony lawyers at Randall & Stump, PLLC right away at (980) 237-4579.
Habitual Felon Under North Carolina Law
Under North Carolina General Statute (NCGS) §14-7.1, you may be labeled a habitual felon if you have been convicted of three felonies, which were all separate crimes and occurred when you were 18 years of age or older. If you were convicted of any number of felonies before you turned 18-years-old, they count as one felony toward habitual felon status. Also, if you were convicted of two or more felonies related to one criminal incident, this is viewed as one felony conviction in regard to whether you are a habitual felon.
You are not automatically considered a habitual felon. This is something you must be charged with through a grand jury. For example, if you are facing a fourth, separate felony, then the prosecutor can ask the grand jury to also indict you as a habitual felon along with indicating you for the fourth felony offense.
During the trial for your fourth or additional felony, the jury does not discuss your habitual offender indictment. If you are found not guilty, then it is irrelevant. However, if you are found guilty, then the indictment matters. A second trial must take place to determine whether or not to classify you as a habitual felon. If you are labeled a habitual offender, you face much harsher punishments. You will be sentenced for a felony class four times higher than the underlying class of your initial conviction, except you cannot be sentenced above a class C felony.
If you are concerned that conviction for a felony-level offense may cause a jury to indict you as a habitual offender, contact the felony lawyers at Randall & Stump, PLLC today at (980) 237-4579.
You Can Be Charged With a Felony Without Committing a Crime
You may not realize this, but conspiracy to commit a felony is also a crime. You can be charged with an offense even for just planning to commit another serious crime. Under NCGS §14-2.4, you can be charged and convicted of conspiracy to commit a felony. The class of offense you face will be one lower than the felony you are accused of planning. For example, if you allegedly planned to commit a class E felony, you will face class F felony punishments.
If, however, you conspire to commit a class A or B1 felony, you will face charges for a class B2 offense. If you conspired to commit a class B2 felony, you will face punishments for a class C offense. If you conspired to commit a Class I felony, then you face class 1 misdemeanor penalties. If you are charged with felony conspiracy, you should contact our felony lawyers as soon as possible. 980-237-4579.
Expungement for Felony Convictions
There are very limited circumstances in which you can petition to expunge a felony conviction. You may ask to expunge a first-time, non-violent felony. As of December 2017, you only have to wait 10 years until you’ve completed your punishment (which may include probation) to apply for an expungement. In addition to waiting the appropriate amount of time, you also must have a pattern of good behavior from the time of your conviction to when you submit your petition.
When you begin the process of expungement and compile community service forms, affidavits, character witnesses, and reach the point when your conviction may be expunged, the District Attorney’s office is notified. After reviewing the provided material, they can oppose your expungement.