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Violent Crime Offenses in North Carolina
Offenses against another person that use or threaten the use of force can constitute violent crimes. In North Carolina, these are serious allegations that can carry extremely steep penalties if they are prosecuted at the felony level. As a general rule, violent offenses also cannot be expunged off of your criminal record. It is vital to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible in the charging process if you are facing such charges so that you can begin formulating the strongest defense possible. The defense attorneys at PRJ Law stand at the ready to guide you and defend you through this serious and stressful process.
Commonly-charged violent crimes in North Carolina include:
Our laws do not define what constitutes assault, but our courts have defined it as an open, obvious overt act or an attempt, or the appearance of an attempt, with force or violence, to do any sort of immediate physical injury to another person, and the injury/fear of injury is sufficient to put a reasonable person in fear of immediate bodily harm. Interestingly, however, assault does not require an actual touching of the person. Under N.C.G.S. § 14-33, simple assault is punishable as a Class 2 misdemeanor. If the assault involves a touching of the other person (and maybe even things attached to them like a purse), it becomes an battery.
Offenses that use a deadly or dangerous weapon
Assault or battery using a deadly weapon or inflicting serious injury to the other person: Class A1 misdemeanor. C.G.S. § 14-33, subsection (c)(1). . N.C.G.S. § 14-32.4 defines serious bodily injury as an injury that either:
- Creates a substantial risk of death, or
- Causes serious permanent disfigurement; coma; or a permanent or protracted (lengthy, drawn-out) condition that causes:
- Extreme pain
- Permanent loss or permanent or lengthy, drawn-out impairment of any bodily limb, member or organ, or
- That results in lengthy hospitalization.
- Domestic abuse: Any of the above assaults and batteries will apply if the relationship between the alleged perpetrator and victim is a domestic
- Sex crimes: Including sexual assault, sexual battery, rape, molestation and other sexual violence
- Breaking and entering
- Common law robbery
- Armed robbery
- Involuntary manslaughter
- Voluntary manslaughter
- First degree
- Second degree
ASKED WHEN FACING ASSAULT & BATTERY CHARGES
What if the police want me to come in and make a statement about an incident but I haven’t been charged with anything yet. Won’t it make me look more guilty if I don’t talk to them?
No. Look at it this way—if the police had enough to charge you, they almost certainly already would have. If they are asking you to come in for a voluntary statement, that is their way of hoping you will do their work for them and provide incriminating statements. Talk to a lawyer first. With solid defense representation, you stand a much better chance of understanding how any evidence will be used against you so that you can better strategize the strongest defense.
The most important thing to remember throughout this process is that you are NEVER required by law to talk to the police without talking to a lawyer first. Once you are officially detained, your Miranda rights kick in and you can—and should—invoke them and state you want an attorney before answering any questions. Once you are officially charged, you also have the constitutional right to the assistance of counsel. But even if you have not been detained or officially charged—you still are not obligated to speak to the police before speaking to/hiring an attorney.
HOW ARE ASSAULT AND BATTERY DIFFERENT?
For battery charges to be filed, the victim must be touched by the person who is committing the crime. However, if the victim was not touched, only threatened, then the crime is considered assault.
WHAT MAY HAPPEN IF A PERSON IS CONVICTED OF ASSAULT?
Convictions of assault can stay on a person’s record for the remainder of their life. They may have to spend time in jail or prison, pay a rather large monetary fine or even both.
DO YOU HAVE TO SPEAK TO THE POLICE AFTER AN ARREST?
The answer is NO, you have the right to remain silent. You typically don’t have to answer even if you’re under arrest. A police officer generally cannot arrest a person simply for failure to respond to questions. There are, however, situations where you might have to provide information like identification.
The MIRANDA RIGHTS STATE WHAT?
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”
What Are Your Miranda Rights?
The Miranda warning (from the U.S. Supreme Court’s Miranda v. Arizona decision), requires that officers let you know of certain facts after your arrest, before questioning you. An officer who is going to interrogate you must read the Miranda Rights prior to the questioning or interrogation, especially if the officer or officers want to use the answers as evidence at trial..
WHEN THE MIRANDA RIGHTS ARE NOT REQUIRED?
The Miranda warning is not required if you are not in custody and anything you say can be used at trial. Police officers often avoid arresting people—and make it clear to them that they’re free to go—precisely so they don’t have to give the Miranda warning. Then they can arrest the suspect after getting the incriminating statement they wanted all along.
TYPES OF ASSAULT & PENALTIES
Assault with Deadly Weapons
Assault by Strangulation
Assault in a Secret Manner
Throwing Acid or Alkali
Castration or Maiming
PENALTIES FOR ASSAULT & BATTERY
Class A offenses are deemed the most serious. They include murder in the first degree and the unlawful use of a nuclear, biological or chemical weapon of mass destruction. The maximum penalty for this type of offense is life in prison or death.
Along with Class A, other high-level felonies include Class B1 or B2, Class C, and Class D. Examples of offenses in these categories include: First-degree sexual offense Second-degree murder, Second-degree rape, First-degree kidnapping, Voluntary manslaughter, Armed robbery
FELONY CLASSES A-D
Felony Classes A-D
Class A felony: death, or life with or without parole. Class B1 felony: 144 months to life without parole. Class B2 felony: 94 to 393 months. Class C felony: 44 to 182 months. Class D felony: 38 to 160 months.
This includes Class E, F or G offenses. Punishments for these crimes vary widely with some defendants receiving intensive and prolonged probation and others receiving long prison sentences. Certain drug trafficking crimes in this category carry mandatory minimum jail sentences.
Child abuse Assault with a firearm on a law enforcement officer Common-law robbery Assault with a deadly weapon Arson of public buildings Habitual impaired driving
FELONY CLASSES E-G
FELONY CLASSES E-G
Class E felony: 15 to 63 months Class F felony: 10 to 41 months Class G felony: 8 to 31 months
Class G and I offenses do not carry a mandatory minimum sentence that requires jail time. Often, probation, house arrest, community service or substance abuse counseling is imposed as punishment instead of jail time. Maximum penalty for a Class I offense is 24 months in jail
Class I offenses are the least serious. They include: Possession of marijuana Financial transaction card theft Forgery of notes, checks or securities Breaking or entering motor vehicles.
FELONY CLASSES H-I
FELONY CLASSES H-I
Class H felony: 4 to 25 months Class I felony: 3 to 12 months
§ 15A-1340.23. Below Are The Punishment limits for each class of offense and prior conviction level.
(a) Offense Classification; Default Classifications. – The offense classification is as specified in the offense for which the sentence is being imposed. If the offense is a misdemeanor for which there is no classification, it is as classified in G.S. 14-3.
(b) Fines. – Any judgment that includes a sentence of imprisonment may also include a fine. Additionally, when the defendant is other than an individual, the judgment may consist of a fine only. If a community punishment is authorized, the judgment may consist of a fine only. Unless otherwise provided for a specific offense, the maximum fine that may be imposed is two hundred dollars ($200.00) for a Class 3 misdemeanor and one thousand dollars ($1,000) for a Class 2 misdemeanor. The amount of the fine for a Class 1 misdemeanor and a Class A1 misdemeanor is in the discretion of the court.
(c) Punishment for Each Class of Offense and Prior Conviction Level; Punishment Chart Described. – Unless otherwise provided for a specific offense, the authorized punishment for each class of offense and prior conviction level is as specified in the chart below. Prior conviction levels are indicated by the Roman numerals placed horizontally on the top of the chart. Classes of offenses are indicated by the Arabic numbers placed vertically on the left side of the chart. Each grid on the chart contains the following components:
(1) A sentence disposition or dispositions: “C” indicates that a community punishment is authorized; “I” indicates that an intermediate punishment is authorized; and “A” indicates that an active punishment is authorized; and
(2) A range of durations for the sentence of imprisonment: any sentence within the duration specified is permitted.
Prior Conviction Levels
No Prior Convictions
One to Four Prior Convictions
Five or More Prios Convictions
1-60 days C/I/A
1-45 days C
1-30 days C
1-10 days C
1-75 days C/I/A
1-45 days C/I/A
1-45 days C/I/A
1-15 days C
1-150 days C/I/A
1-120 days C/I/A
1-60 days C/I/A
1-20 days C/I/A
(d) Fine Only for Certain Class 3 Misdemeanors. - Unless otherwise provided for a specific offense, the judgment for a person convicted of a Class 3 misdemeanor who has no more than three prior convictions shall consist only of a fine. (1993, c. 538, s. 1; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(b); 1995, c. 507, s. 19.5(g); 2013-360, s. 18B.13(a).)
RESOURCES AND HELP FOR
A crime victim’s rights and resources
As a victim, you have certain rights. The following information is provided by the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys.
- The RIGHT to be given information about the crime, how the criminal justice system works, the rights of victims and the availability of services. The District Attorney has a staff of prosecutors, legal assistants and victim service coordinators to assist you through the process. To request services and further notifications, you should fill out and return the Victim Impact Statement to the District Attorney’s Office.
- The RIGHT, upon request, to reasonable, accurate and timely notice of court proceedings. If you want to be kept up to date on court proceedings, conviction, or sentencing of the accused, you must opt-in for notification services through the Victim Impact Statement and keep the District Attorney’s Office up to date with your contact information. You may find or search court dates by defendant name, and also subscribe to court date notifications for criminal cases (primarily district court) via email or SMS / text message.
- The RIGHT, upon request, to be present and heard at court proceedings involving the plea, conviction, sentencing, or release. The District Attorney’s Office can assist you in developing your Victim Impact Statement for the court.
- The RIGHT, upon request, to receive notification of escape, release, proposed parole or pardon or notice of a reprieve or commutation of the accused’s sentence. To receive information about a defendant’s confinement or release, register with NC SAVAN (North Carolina Statewide Automated Victim Assistance and Notification) at 1-877-NC-SAVAN or www.ncsavan.org. NC SAVAN is a statewide notification system that will notify you should the defendant be released from jail.
To receive information about people on probation, in prison or on parole, contact the N.C. Department of Public Safety, Victim Services at 1-866-719-0108 to enroll in their notification program.
- The RIGHT, upon request, to receive information about the conviction, final disposition and the sentence. If the defendant is found, or pleads guilty, and is sentenced to a confinement facility, you have a right to information about appeals and release dates. If the defendant appeals the case, upon your request, your information will be forwarded to the Attorney General for assistance through the appellate process. If the defendant is found not guilty, your case is over and will not proceed any further.
- The RIGHT to reasonably confer with the District Attorney’s Office. Please contact the District Attorney’s Office for assistance.
- The RIGHT to present the victim’s views and concerns in writing, to the Governor or agency considering action, that could result in the release of the accused.
Where else can I get help?
For more general information about victims’ rights, see the websites of the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys and the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office. Both sites provide additional information for crime victims and can help connect victims with community services and information about financial assistance. Specific information is available on the Attorney General’s website for victims of elder abuse, identity theft, consumer scams, domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking.
The North Carolina Victim Assistance Network also provides information and assistance for crime victims, including a directory of local resources and statewide hotlines. You can find a directory of local domestic violence service providers here and a directory of local rape crisis centers here. You can also view the courts’ Victim Information Sheet online.