Defending Violent Crime Charges
North Carolina prohibits a wide-range of violent and harmful behavior, from simple assault to murder.
Because of this, violent crimes vary greatly in the level of the charge and potential penalty. However, whether you are charged with a relatively minor misdemeanor or a serious felony, a conviction can have a profound effect on your life. A conviction for a violent crime can ruin your personal and professional reputation. It may alter your relationship with friends and family members. It puts your education and career on hold. For all of these reasons, you need to take any accusations of committing a violent crime seriously and call a violent crimes attorney immediately.
When you are under investigation for a violent crime or you have already been charged, you may think the best thing for you to do is cooperate. You might believe that working with the police or prosecutors is the best way to prove your innocence. In an ideal world, this might be true. In our current legal system, cooperating often gives prosecutors evidence to use against you. Prosecutors will twist your words and manipulate the facts to try and prove you committed the crime, no matter how innocent you are.
Instead of placing yourself at risk when the stakes are so high, you should call a Charlotte criminal attorney from Randall & Stump, PLLC. We are here to protect your rights during a criminal investigation. If charges are brought against you, we may work to have the charges reduced or dropped. If the prosecution persists, we will independently investigate the situation, gather and review evidence on your behalf, and build the strongest possible defense for trial.
Violent Crime Laws in Charlotte, NC
The North Carolina General Statutes (NCGS) outline a number of violent crimes, from low-level misdemeanors to the most serious felonies. Some of the most common offenses, which our violent crimes lawyers handle, include:
- Assault (NCGS 14-28 – 34.10): North Carolina has merged the offenses of assault and battery. Battery, under the common law, is an offensive or violent touching of another person without their consent, which may or may not cause injury. Common law assault constitutes placing another person in fear of bodily harm or death. North Carolina’s assault offenses encompass both the actual touching and creating fear. Certain simple assault offenses are misdemeanors, while other assaults, including those involving a deadly weapon or which result in serious injury, are felonies. If you are accused of assault, contact a violent crimes attorney immediately.
- Assault on a Female (NCGS 14-33(c)(2)): If you are male and at least 18 years old, and you are accused of assaulting a female, you will be charged with a Class A1 misdemeanor. This is a more serious offense than if you were accused of assaulting another man or if you were a woman.
- Battery (NCGS 14-18 – 34.10): Under the common law, battery encompassed an offensive or harmful touching against another person without their consent. Battery required an actual touching, though it did not require the victim to be injured or have any visible mark as a result. In North Carolina, battery crimes are handled in assault laws, and they may be charged as misdemeanors or felonies. If you are accused of assault and/or battery, contact a violent crime lawyer to discuss your options.
- Homicide (NCGS 14-17): Homicide in North Carolina includes murder in the first and second degree. Deliberate, willful, and premeditated murder, or murder that occurs during the commission of certain felonies, is first-degree murder and charged as a Class A felony. Also, murder committed with malice against a person you have a intimidate relationship with is murder in the first degree. Any other type of murder is of the second degree and charged as a Class B1 or Class B2 felony. When facing allegations of murder, whatever the degree, contact a violent crimes attorney immediately.
- Manslaughter (NCGS 14-18): Manslaughter is an unlawful killing of another person without malice aforethought, which generally means without the intention to kill. Voluntary manslaughter is a Class D felony and occurs when an individual kills while in the heat of passion. Involuntary manslaughter is a Class F felony, and it occurs when an individual is careless or reckless and accidentally causes another person’s death.
- Kidnapping (NCGS 14-39): You may be charged with kidnapping if you unlawfully confine, restrain, or remove from one place to another, any person without their consent or their parent or guardian’s permission, and you hold that person for ransom or as a hostage, do so to facilitate the commission of a felony, cause that person bodily harm or terrorize them, place them in involuntary or sexual servitude, or intend to traffic the victim. Depending on the circumstances, you may be charged with kidnapping in the first or second degree, which are charged as Class C and Class E felonies, respectively. If you are ever charged with or accused of kidnapping, call our violent crimes attorneys as soon as possible.
- Domestic Violence (NCGS 50B-1): Under North Carolina law, domestic violence includes the commission of certain offenses against someone you have a personal relationship with. Domestic violence includes attempting or intentionally causing bodily injury; placing the victim or a member of their family in fear of imminent serious bodily injury or continued harassment, or committing a sex crime. Personal relationships include current and former spouses and current or former sexual and romantic partners; blood relatives; the other parent of your child; and current or former household members. After being accused of domestic violence and charged with a violent crime, the best thing you can do for yourself is to contact a violent crimes lawyer.
Criminal Penalties Upon Conviction
North Carolina’s sentencing guidelines are complicated. It is important to speak with an experienced attorney about the potential penalties, such as fines, incarceration, probation, restitution, community service, counseling, rehabilitation, and more.
If you are convicted of a misdemeanor, the maximum term of incarceration depends on the level of the misdemeanor and your criminal history. For first-time offenses, you face between one and 60 days of incarceration. If you have between one and four prior convictions, you may be incarcerated up to 75 days. For five or more prior convictions, you face up to 150 days of incarceration.
Felonies convictions are sentenced based on a grid, which depends on the class of the felony and which level your criminal record places you into. There are ten classes of felonies: A, B1, B2, C, D, E, F, G, H, and I. Your prior record level is based on a number of assigned points. You may score as low as zero, if you have no prior convictions, or higher than 18 points if you have an extensive criminal record. There are six prior record levels, I-VI.
A Class I felony with prior record Level I or II is the least serious felony penalty, with a presumptive range of four to six months in prison. The most serious is a Class A felony, which is punished with the death penalty or life imprisonment without parole no matter your prior record level.
To discuss the specific penalty, you may face according to the criminal justice process, contact our violent crimes lawyers at Randall & Stump, PLLC today.
Fighting Restraining Orders in North Carolina
Another common consequence of being convicted or accused of a violent crime is a restraining order. North Carolina offers a variety of protective orders, including domestic violence protective orders (50B Orders), civil no-contact orders (50C Orders), civil no-contact orders for victims of registered sex offenders (50D orders), and criminal protective orders.
You may face a criminal protective order, usually a no-contact order when released on bail or as part of your sentence. To fight a criminal restraining order, your attorney must do so during the criminal court process. A no-contact order is commonly used as a requirement to obtain pre-trial release and ordered by the judge determining your conditions of release. However, an experienced criminal defense lawyer may be able to fight restrictive requirements for bail, such as if the restraining order would affect your ability to see your children.
You also may face a civil restraining order separate from the criminal proceedings, which is very common in domestic related cases. At Randall & Stump, PLLC, we can represent you in defending against a civil restraining order in addition to defending you against the criminal charges. Contact us today to learn about fighting a restraining order.
Collateral Consequences of a Violent Crime
If you are convicted of a violent crime, you may experience numerous secondary consequences. After fulfilling your criminal penalties, including paying fines and completing a term of imprisonment, you will be released to face life with a permanent criminal record. This criminal record can be viewed by the public, usually after someone runs a background check. However, you may also have to declare your conviction on applications for school, financial aid, jobs, rental housing, and loans. Your criminal conviction may lead to challenges in continuing your education, obtaining certain professional degrees, and getting a job. It can also make renting a home or obtaining an auto loan difficult. The conviction may negatively impact your child custody and visitation rights and your immigration status. To discuss the many possible collateral consequences of a violent crime conviction and how to avoid them, speak with a violent crimes attorney.
Defending Against Violent Crimes
At Randall & Stump, PLLC, we realize that facing violent crime charges are frightening. It can be difficult to think about anything other than the worst case scenario. We are here to thoroughly review your case and provide you with an objective analysis, including the strongest possible defenses.
Some of the defense strategies for violent offenses that may be available include:
- The alleged victim consented to your actions.
- You acted in self-defense or defense of others.
- There has been a mistake of identity.
- The allegations against you are false.
- The prosecution lacks sufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.