Charlotte Felony Sentencing Attorney

Charlotte Felony Sentencing Attorney

Being accused of a criminal offense in Charlotte can be devastating and life-altering. You will no doubt be consumed with many questions, including what charges you face, the consequences of those charges, and how a conviction could impact your future. If you face a felony charge, you will not only face excessive fines and prison time, but your record will continuously follow you and impact your ability to find housing or employment. It could even prevent you from having future educational opportunities.

However, with the right criminal defense attorney, you can confront the challenges ahead of you and find the answers to your questions. At The Law Office of Kevin L. Barnett, our team has the knowledge and experience to help you navigate the criminal legal system. While we fight aggressively for your acquittal, we can often push for a reduction or dismissal of your charges. We build a defense based on your circumstances and the needs of your case. Our team understands the severity of criminal convictions, particularly felonies, and fights to protect your future.

Felonies vs. Misdemeanors

Criminal charges are broken into two categories: felonies and misdemeanors. Felonies are the more serious of the two, and punishments will almost always include time in prison. The length of time you may spend there is determined by the severity of the crime and any criminal record you already have.

While most felonies include jail time, the type of felony committed, and the points determined by the state’s sentencing grid, could offer options for courts to keep a convicted felon out of jail. Other punishment options include house arrest, drug treatment, community service, or another punishment determined by the court that is reasonable for the crime committed.

Examples of felonies include:

  • Arson
  • Kidnapping
  • Assault
  • Battery
  • Burglary
  • Murder

Misdemeanors, on the other hand, are much less serious in nature. They often include time in a county jail rather than a state prison, or they could result in a fine. Misdemeanors, while still a part of your criminal record, are often not as impactful on other areas of your life.

Misdemeanor charges are usually applied to crimes such as:

  • Traffic tickets
  • Drug possession
  • Public intoxication
  • Violations of probation

While these charges in both categories are just examples, the circumstances of the case will determine which type of charge you could face. For example, if you are arrested for public intoxication while using an object to hurt another person, the additional charge could have you facing a felony.

Types of Felonies in North Carolina

Felony charges in North Carolina are divided into different classes that determine the severity of the felony charge.

  • High-Level Felonies: Class A felonies are the most serious types of charges. Examples of these felonies include murder, using weapons of mass destruction, or other heinous crimes. Those convicted of Class A felonies could face lengthy prison terms or even the death penalty. Other high-level felonies include Class B1 or B2, Class C, and Class D. These types of felonies include certain sexual offenses, kidnapping, voluntary manslaughter, armed robbery, and second-degree rape.
  • Mid-Level Felonies: These are not quite as serious as high-level felonies, but they can still be devastating if you are convicted of any of them. Class E, F, or G offenses are considered mid-level. These types of crimes include child abuse, assault with a firearm or against law enforcement, assault with a deadly weapon, arson of public buildings, and even habitual impaired driving. Punishments for these felonies will vary but often include some prison time as well as probation.
  • Low-Level Felonies: Class H and Class I felonies are considered the least serious types. However, do not let the description mislead you concerning the severity of the consequences. Although not as serious, they will still be on your criminal record and could still impact your future. Punishment might include jail time, but a conviction may result in alternatives, such as community service or substance abuse counseling, depending on the specifics of your charge. These types of felonies include repeated misdemeanor assault, breaking and entering, first-degree forgery, escaping from prison, hit-and-run with injury, and possession of marijuana.

In each of these classifications, the crimes listed are just a small example of the many that could fall into each category. To understand the exact charges against you, and how they will be litigated, you should consult with your criminal defense attorney.

Felony Sentencing

When sentencing is determined for felony cases, North Carolina uses a unique grid system. It factors in previous convictions as well as the type of crime that was committed. For previous convictions, they are assigned a point value based on the classification level of the felony. The total number of points is used to define the accused’s record level, which then sets the minimum and maximum sentences. When courts use the grid, they often use the following procedure:

  • Identify the appropriate felony class for the charges.
  • Determine any prior criminal record levels.
  • Establish the culpability of the defendant.
  • Establish a reasonable minimum and maximum sentence.
  • Impose the sentence.

Each felony class has its own range of potential sentencing that serves as the baseline for any ensuing punishment. The ranges for each felony class are as follows:

  • Class A: Death or life without parole
  • Class B1: 144 months to life without parole
  • Class B2: 94 months up to 393 months
  • Class C: 44 months up to 182 months
  • Class D: 38 months up to 160 months
  • Class E: 15 months up to 63 months
  • Class F: 10 months up to 41 months
  • Class G: 8 months up to 31 months
  • Class H: 4 months up to 25 months
  • Class I: 3 months up to 12 months

Prior record levels are determined using the following points scale for each prior conviction:

  • Class A felonies: 10 points
  • Class B1 felonies: 9 points
  • Class B2, C, or D felonies: 6 points
  • Class E, F, or G felonies: 4 points
  • Class H or I felonies: 2 points
  • Each misdemeanor: 1 point

The total number of points then gives the prior record level, as shown in the following:

  • Level 1: 0 to 1 point
  • Level 2: 2 to 5 points
  • Level 3: 6 to 9 points
  • Level 4: 10 to 13 points
  • Level 5: 14 to 17 points
  • Level 6: 18 or more points

Then, to establish the correct sentencing, there will be a determination of the dispositional range, which will determine where in the range of potential sentencing a person’s conviction could land them. The three dispositional ranges are:

  • Presumptive: This is the standard sentence for any felony conviction. Felonies that fall into the presumptive category are free from aggravating or mitigating circumstances. The sentencing will then be established based on the presumptive range.
  • Aggravated: If there are aggravating circumstances surrounding the crime, the sentencing will move to the aggravated range. Examples include:
    • A person was hired to commit the crime.
    • The crime was particularly heinous, atrocious, or cruel.
    • The victim was either very old or very young.
  • Mitigating: The mitigated range is used when a court determines that there are appropriate mitigating factors that need to be taken into consideration. These factors often help a defendant’s sentencing because they give context to the crime. For example, the offense may involve a defendant who:
    • Is responsible for the care of their family.
    • Was tricked into the commission of the crime.
    • Has shown genuine responsibility for their criminal behavior.

If, for example, a person is convicted of a Class C felony, the dispositional sentencing ranges could be:

  • 77 months to 96 months if presumptive
  • 96 months up to 120 months if aggravated
  • 58 months to 77 months if mitigated.

Once a range of sentencing is determined, the court will set the sentence accordingly. The sentencing grid establishes the appropriate range based on all the information. The courts will then sentence the defendant, who will then become eligible for parole once the minimum time in the range has been served.

In addition to jail or prison time, most felonies will also be met with fines and court costs.

The Costs of Felony Convictions

Understanding how North Carolina sentences a felony may seem confusing, but felonies in North Carolina really cost you more than just prison time and fines. You could face:

  • Incarceration
  • Probation
  • Random searches
  • Random drug tests
  • Fines
  • Court costs
  • Fees for supervision
  • Restitution payments
  • Community service
  • Treatment for drug and alcohol addiction
  • Losing your driver’s license

In addition, you could:

  • Harm your current or future professional career.
  • Lose your right to vote.
  • Be ineligible to hold public office or serve as a juror.
  • Lose your federal assistance, such as food stamps or student loans.

It could also be detrimental to your standing in the community or among your friends and family.

Finding a Criminal Defense Attorney

There are many criminal defense attorneys that offer their services to defend against felony charges. You may be wondering what attorney is right for you or if you can even afford one. While you may be tempted to work with a public defender, as is your constitutional right, these attorneys are often new in their field and bogged down with a heavy caseload. If you are facing felony criminal charges, take the following into consideration when looking for a criminal defense attorney to help you:

  • What is their experience level with cases similar to yours? There are many areas of criminal law, and not every attorney practices them all. You will want to find out what practice areas of concentration any potential attorneys have. You wouldn’t want an attorney who focuses on DUI charges if you are facing homicide charges. Attorneys who are experienced in defending similar types of cases are better equipped to offer you options for your defense.
  • How responsive will they be? You want an attorney who is available to answer your questions. It is unreasonable to think that you will be their only client, but you should have an expectation level when communicating with your attorney. It is your future on the line, and you will want quick answers to your questions to keep your mind at ease through the process. This is also an opportunity to find out if you will be speaking directly with your attorney or with another member of their team. Knowing with whom you will be communicating, and the expectations surrounding that communication, can help determine if they are the right fit for you.
  • How comfortable are you when speaking with them? One of the keys to a successful defense is the rapport and relationship between the defendant and their attorney. You should want an attorney who is aggressive in the courtroom but empathetic and compassionate concerning your situation. Additionally, you want an attorney that you can trust. Building a defense for felony charges requires knowledge of the facts, and you should feel comfortable sharing all the details with your attorney.
  • What type of success have they had in the past? Doing a web search for an attorney’s name is sure to bring up reviews and comments from previous clients. You can see the type of feedback they have earned and what success has looked like for them. However, an added benefit to this approach is that you can see what their name is attached to. Because your attorney represents you, you want to know as much about them as you can, including what they are affiliated with. Their reputation in the community should also factor into your decision.

Types of Cases We Handle

The Law Office of Kevin L. Barnett brings over 30 years of experience in criminal defense to your case. In that time, we had the privilege of defending our clients in a multitude of criminal felony cases. Our team has helped our clients with:

  • Violent Crimes: This is a broad term used to describe felonies such as assault with a deadly weapon, murder, and more. These crimes often face the toughest penalties.
  • Drug Offenses: From possession to distribution, our team knows how to navigate the drug laws in North Carolina.
  • Sexual Offenses: These are often thoroughly prosecuted because they are considered the most serious and heinous types of crimes. Whether your charges are against children or adults, penalties for these types of crimes not only include prison time and fines, but you could also have to register on the national sex offender registry.
  • Felony DUI: If you are convicted multiple times for driving under the influence, you could face felony charges for this repeated behavior.

Whether you face these types of charges or other felony crimes, our team can evaluate the circumstances of your case and help provide a defense that fights aggressively for you. You have a right to challenge the charges against you, and the team at The Law Office of Kevin L. Barnett is here to help.

Charlotte Criminal Cases FAQs

Q: What Is the Sentence for a Class D Felony in North Carolina?

A: Class D felonies range in prison time from 38 to 160 months, depending on the severity of the charge. However, other circumstances can determine the sentencing range that you could face. This includes any prior felony convictions you have received or if there are any mitigating or aggravating circumstances. Depending on the range, you would be eligible for parole once the minimum has been met.

Q: What Is the Lowest Level of Felony in North Carolina?

A: Class I felonies are the lowest-level felonies in North Carolina. They range in penalties from 3 months up to 12 months in prison. Examples of Class I felonies include:

  • Making terroristic threats
  • Some forms of domestic violence
  • Larceny
  • Embezzlement
  • Committing some types of fraud

Even though there is a range for jail time, these felonies could have alternative sentencing that avoids jail altogether.

Q: How Long Is the Sentence for a Class H Felony in North Carolina?

A: A Class H felony could result in a prison sentence of up to 25 months. If sentenced to prison, the minimum time served before parole eligibility would be 4 months. The punishment range could be impacted by aggravating or mitigating circumstances as well as previous criminal convictions. Types of crimes include various charges of assault, embezzlement, and more.

Q: What Is the Sentence for a Class F Felony in North Carolina?

A: Prison sentences range from 10 months to 41 months. These terms are impacted by aggravating and mitigating circumstances that could affect the final sentence. This range is also impacted by previous criminal convictions. Types of criminal actions that could be charged with a Class F felony include human trafficking, violent assaults, involuntary manslaughter, and more.

Charlotte Criminal Lawyer

If you are facing felony criminal charges, you should seek the help of an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Because of the seriousness of these charges, you want someone to not only start reviewing the details of your case but also help ensure your rights are protected throughout the legal process. When you need an attorney you can trust, contact the team at The Law Office of Kevin L. Barnett. Our team fights aggressively for our clients based on the circumstances of their case. Contact our offices today to find out how our attorneys can help.


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