At King Law, our experienced North Carolina criminal defense lawyers understand how to protect your rights and explore every available avenue for a favorable outcome. We have extensive experience representing individuals accused of felony crimes in our state and can provide the aggressive advocacy you need.
What Constitutes a Felony Charge in North Carolina?
Understanding the specific charges you’re facing is essential for your defense. In North Carolina, felonies encompass a broad spectrum of crimes. Below are some of the most common felony charges in North Carolina and their associated consequences.
Felony Drug Charges
Drug offenses like trafficking, manufacturing, or possession of controlled substances can escalate to felonies depending on the substance type, quantity, and other circumstantial factors. Potential penalties can range from imprisonment and hefty fines to mandatory drug rehabilitation programs.
Felony Violent Crimes
Violent crimes such as murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault are considered felonies in North Carolina. The severity of the punishment varies based on the crime’s nature and severity, but all carry the potential for long-term imprisonment.
Felony Property Crimes
In North Carolina, property crimes like burglary, arson, and grand larceny may be classified as felonies, particularly when they involve large amounts of money or property or are committed with aggravating factors. Such felonies can result in severe penalties, including imprisonment and restitution payments.
Potential Consequences of Felony Convictions
Felony convictions can have long-lasting effects that extend far beyond the initial sentence. It’s crucial to comprehend these consequences and the steps you can take to mitigate their impact.
Criminal Records and Employment Opportunities
A felony conviction can make it challenging to secure employment. Employers often conduct background checks, and a felony record may negatively influence their hiring decision. Certain professional licenses may also be out of reach with a felony conviction.
Loss of Civil Liberties
Upon conviction, felons can lose various civil liberties, including the right to vote, own firearms, and serve on a jury. Some of these rights may be restored over time, but it is a complex process that often requires legal assistance.
Building a Defense to a Felony Charge
Facing a felony charge is undoubtedly a life-altering event. But with proper preparation, a thorough understanding of your charges and rights, and the guidance of an experienced felony defense lawyer, you can navigate this difficult time and work towards the best possible outcome.
First Steps After Being Charged
Upon being charged, it’s imperative to seek legal representation immediately. Remain silent until your felony defense lawyer is present, as anything you say can be used against you in court. Try to provide your lawyer with as much information as possible about your case, aiding them in building a robust defense.
Maintaining a Proactive Role
While your Gastonia felony defense lawyer will do the heavy lifting, it’s essential for you to stay engaged throughout the process. Maintain open communication with your lawyer, ask questions, and be proactive about understanding your charges and potential defenses.
Understanding the Charges
It’s essential to understand the specific charges you are facing and their potential penalties. If the prosecution has a strong case, your felony defense lawyer in Gastonia may advise you to negotiate a plea bargain instead of going to trial.
Developing a Defense Strategy
Once your criminal defense lawyer has reviewed your case and the evidence, they will work with you to develop a defense strategy tailored to your situation. This could involve gathering evidence and witnesses, challenging the prosecution’s evidence, or filing pre-trial motions.
What to Expect After You Are Charged
Experiencing an arrest can be overwhelming. It’s important to remember that an arrest is not a conviction. After an arrest, several steps take place before a sentence is imposed, including:
Before a felony case reaches trial, several pretrial proceedings take place. Your understanding of these can give you a head start in your defense.
Initial Appearance and Bond Hearing
Your first encounter with the court is the initial appearance, where you’ll be informed of your charges and rights. Following this, a bond hearing determines your eligibility for release before trial. Your felony defense lawyer plays a crucial role in advocating for your release or lower bail amount.
Preliminary Hearings and Arraignment
Preliminary hearings assess if enough evidence exists to proceed with the case. Here, your lawyer can challenge the prosecution’s evidence. If the case proceeds, you’ll be arraigned, wherein you’ll enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest.
Post-Conviction Relief and Expungements
Even after a felony conviction, there are paths available to mitigate the impacts and move forward in life.
Post-conviction relief provides an opportunity to challenge a conviction or sentence after the trial. If there’s evidence of new facts, constitutional violations, or other legal errors during your trial, your felony defense lawyer may seek relief on your behalf.
An expungement or expunction allows you to erase a felony charge or conviction from your public record under certain conditions. Not all felonies are eligible for expungement, and waiting periods apply, but successful expungement can greatly ease the burden of a felony conviction on your life.
A Closer Look at North Carolina’s Felony Sentencing
North Carolina implements structured sentencing for felony charges. The potential penalties depend on the severity of the crime, prior criminal record, and other factors. Understanding this structure is critical in preparing your defense strategy.
North Carolina’s Felony Classifications
North Carolina categorizes felonies from Class A to Class I, with Class A being the most serious. Class A felonies, such as first-degree murder, carry a sentence of life imprisonment or death, while lower-class felonies, like Class I, have less severe sentences.
The Role of Prior Convictions
Your previous criminal record plays a significant role in your sentencing. The presence of any prior convictions could escalate your sentence level, resulting in harsher penalties.
Time Is of the Essence — Contact King Law for Felony Defense in NC
Facing a felony charge may feel like an uphill battle, but with the right knowledge and assistance, you can face the challenge with strength and resolve. Partnering with a lawyer can be the most valuable step in safeguarding your future in the wake of such charges.
Remember, you are more than the charges against you, and with the right help, you can navigate this daunting journey toward a brighter tomorrow. Contact King Law at (888) 748-5464 or (888) 748-KING. You can also arrange a consultation by filling out our contact form.