While laws differ by state, the consequences of violent acts are severe no matter where you live. Even a misdemeanor assault in North Carolina can result in up to five months of incarceration. Additionally, allegations of violent criminal behavior frequently limit future professional and social opportunities, not to mention the harsh consequences that the criminal justice system can impose if a conviction is obtained.
At The Wilkie Law Group, we use every tool and resource available to argue the claims and evidence leveled against our clients, and we fight aggressively for their charges to be dismissed or reduced. If you or a loved one has been charged with a violent offense, contact our experienced North Carolina violent crimes defense attorney right away.
What is a Violent Crime?
A violent crime is one in which a victim is intentionally subjected to the threat and/or use of force. This includes offenses in which a violent act is intended, such as armed robbery, and other offenses in which the violent act is committed to reach an end goal, such as murder.
Arson, assault, battery, rape, and homicide are all examples of violent crimes. If you are accused of a violent crime, your reputation, future, freedom, and entire life may be forever jeopardized. You risk years in prison, hefty fines, a permanent criminal record, and several other penalties, such as the loss of certain rights.
Types of Violent Crime
The definition of violent crime varies by jurisdiction, but it generally covers crimes that cause intentional harm to another person. From simple assault to murder, North Carolina prohibits a wide variety of violent acts, including:
- Starting a fire with malicious intent to burn, destroy, or harm people or property.
- A legitimate threat or attempt of bodily injury that causes the victim to fear danger.
- Entails causing bodily harm to another person. (Assault and battery are generally merged in most cases.)
- The death of one individual by another who possessed intent to injure or kill.
- Illegal seizure of another person’s property by threat or force.
- Firearms Offenses
- The illegal use or possession of firearms.
- Domestic Violence
- When a defendant uses a dangerous weapon to injure someone with whom he or she has a personal relationship.
In some cases, typically nonviolent offenses can be elevated to the degree of violence under the right circumstances. For example, forcing someone to sign a contract, which is often classified a non-violent crime, becomes violent if the defendant threatens to harm the victim or if the act involves a dangerous or deadly weapon.
Misdemeanor Violent Crime
Misdemeanor violent crimes in North Carolina include:
- Assault – Assault offenses include both actual touching and simply creating fear of impending harm. Simple attacks are generally misdemeanors, whereas more serious assaults, such as those involving a lethal weapon or causing serious injury, are felonies.
- Assault on a Female – Males over the age of 18 who are accused of assaulting a female will likely face a misdemeanor charge. Assault on a female is more serious of a charge than assaulting another man.
- Battery – Battery is defined under common law as an offensive or violent touching of another person without their consent. The victim must be touched, but there is no requirement that the victim be hurt or have any visible marks. Assault laws also apply to battery offenses in North Carolina, and they can be charged as either misdemeanors or felonies depending on the circumstances surrounding the crime.
Felony Violent Crime
Felony violent crimes in North Carolina include:
- Homicide – In North Carolina, homicide refers to both first and second-degree murders. First-degree murder is defined as deliberate, purposeful, and premeditated murder, or murder that happens during the commission of certain offenses. It also includes the committing of murder with malice against someone with whom you have an intimate relationship. Any other homicide is generally classified in the second degree.
- Manslaughter – Manslaughter is defined as the unlawful killing of another person without the intent to kill. There are two types of manslaughter: voluntary and involuntary. Voluntary manslaughter occurs when a person kills in a fit of rage, while involuntary manslaughter occurs when a person is careless or reckless and unintentionally causes the death of another person.
- Kidnapping – If you unlawfully confine, restrain, or move a person from one place to another without their consent or that of their parent or guardian, you are committing the felony act of kidnapping. Kidnapping also occurs when someone holds a person for ransom or as a hostage, does so to facilitate the commission of another felony, causes bodily harm or terrorizes them, places them in involuntary or sexual servitude, or intends to traffic that person.
- Domestic Violence – Domestic violence in North Carolina is defined as the commission of certain offenses against someone with whom you have a personal relationship. Attempting or willfully causing bodily injury, putting the victim or a member of their family in fear of immediate serious bodily injury or continuing harassment, or committing a sexually motivated offense can all be examples of domestic violence. Depending on the severity of the crime and the prosecutor handling the case, domestic violence can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.
The best thing you can do for yourself after being accused of any of these violent offenses is to call a violent crimes defense attorney right away. The quicker you get someone like Aden Wilkie working for you, the better.
Penalties for Violent Crimes in North Carolina
The degree of bodily harm caused to the victim and the defendant’s prior criminal record determines the extent of a violent crime (misdemeanor or felony) and the severity of its penalties. Further, the victim’s characteristics can influence the severity of the charge as well. For example, the charges may be dramatically increased if the offense was committed against a police officer or other member of a protected class, a woman, or a child. As a result, the potential punishment for violent crimes varies greatly from case to case.
North Carolina recognizes four classes of misdemeanors, ranging from 1 day to 5 months in prison. Generally speaking, if you’re a first-time offender, you could face a sentence of anywhere from 1 to 60 days in jail for a misdemeanor violent crime. If you have one to four prior misdemeanor convictions, you might face a sentence of up to 75 days in jail. Five or more convictions could see you locked up for up to 150 days.
There are 10 classes of felonies in North Carolina. For the least serious felony offense (Class I), you may be looking at 4-6 months in prison. For the most serious felonies (Class A), you can expect to face life in prison with no possibility of parole. The death penalty might also be applied.
The sentencing guidelines in North Carolina are complex. You’ll need an experienced violent crimes attorney on your side to help you navigate the charges you are facing. Fines, jail, probation, restitution, community service, therapy, rehabilitation, and other penalties should all be discussed with your North Carolina criminal defense attorney.
Defenses Against Violent Crime Charges
No matter the charges you face, prosecutors must prove each aspect of the alleged crime(s) in order to successfully convict you. Your lawyer will thoroughly investigate and challenge the prosecution’s premise of the case, as well as any evidence the state has against you.
Your defense may be built on a number of things, including:
- False accusations
- False witness testimony
- Self-defense or defense of others
- Mistaken identity
- Proven alibi
- Flawed methods of forensic testing
- Bias among witnesses, police, or the prosecution
- Racial, socioeconomic, gender, sexual orientation, etc.
What To Do After Being Charged with a Violent Crime in NC?
The most important thing to remember if you are charged with a violent offense is that you should not provide a statement to the police without an attorney present to assist you. You have rights, including the right to an attorney and the right to stay silent. When you’re arrested, stay calm and politely tell the police that you’d like to talk to an attorney. Then, immediately call a skilled Jacksonville criminal defense attorney like Aden Wilkie. He will advise you on where to go from there.
Contact Jacksonville Violent Crimes Attorney Aden Wilkie Today!
Remember: in the United States, you are presumed innocent unless the prosecution establishes your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. There are a variety of strategies to defend against claims of violent crime, and you need a strong violent crimes defense attorney who is familiar with these strategies to help secure your freedom and your future. To learn more about how The Wilkie Law Group can help you, call (910) 333-9626 today to schedule a confidential consultation.