Felony and Criminal Law Defense Attorneys in Charlotte
What Is a Felony?
A crime is categorized as either a felony or misdemeanor, and categorization depends on various factors. In the case of theft, a felony is determined by the value of the item in question. Violent crimes are determined to be a felony based on the amount of injury or damage caused. Felonies are serious violations of the law and incur severe punishment. The North Carolina Legislature currently determines whether a crime is a felony.
Contact us for a felony defense attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina.
What Crimes Qualify as Felonies?
Felonies include a range of crimes:
- First Degree Murder
- Armed Robbery
- Sexual assault
- Violent assault
- Attempted murder
- Drug trafficking
- Possession with the intent to sell and deliver
- Manufacturing of drugs
- Property obtainment by false pretenses
North Carolina Habitual Laws
Felonies can be impacted by sentencing enhancement laws that punish repeat offenses. North Carolina’s habitual felon law of three strikes increases the punishment for four or more felony convictions. North Carolina’s less common violent habitual felon law imposes a life sentence on those who commit a second violent felony. The state also implements a habitual assault law, which punishes multiple assaults more harshly.
Felony vs. Misdemeanor Convictions in North Carolina
The difference between a felony conviction and a misdemeanor conviction is that a felony conviction will result in the loss of certain citizenship rights, including the right to vote and the right to hold public office. Rights are restored after prison or probation ends. In addition, a person who is a convicted felon can never again legally possess a firearm or ammunition for a firearm. A violation of this prohibition can result in a federal sentence of up to 10 years in prison for small infringements. Felony convictions are one of these most serious matters. Hire a lawyer as quickly as possible if you believe you may be charged with a felony. Under no circumstances should you speak with police about the case without your lawyer present.
How Does the Felony Process Work?
Most felonies begin and end in District Court in North Carolina. Means to an end include dismissal, a felony diversion, a felony drug diversion program, or a plea agreement.
A felony diversion or felony drug diversion program involves an agreement between the District Attorney and the defendant. The defendant agrees to complete specific treatment programs, stay out of trouble, pay back restitution in cases involving theft or property crime, and finance program costs. Community service requirements are also common.
Felony cases that do not get resolved in District Court head to Superior Court. Felony cases never go to trial in District Court; they go to trial in Superior Court.
A felony case will reach Superior Court in one of two ways: either a probable cause hearing is held and the judge finds there is enough evidence to charge the person with a felony or the prosecutor convenes a grand jury of 18 citizens. The grand jury deliberates in secret and usually issues a true bill of indictment. In Mecklenburg County, probable cause hearings rarely occur. Instead, the Mecklenburg County District Attorney uses the Grand Jury method to indict people.
An indictment is an accusation which puts the case within the jurisdiction of Superior Court. At that point, the District Attorney may make additional plea offers that will be rejected or accepted by the defendant. Most felony cases do not go to trial. In many cases, the person will plead guilty to a felony or a misdemeanor. In some cases, the charges are dismissed if the District Attorney is not able to proceed with prosecuting the case.
Contact us for a criminal defense attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina.