What is a Felony?
Felonies are serious crimes. Historically, felonies were crimes for which you could be imprisoned more than a year. These days, the North Carolina Legislature will specify whether a crime is a felony or not. Many crimes may be either felonies or misdemeanors, depending on the value of the item in question (in the case of a theft) or the amount of injury or damage caused. Mast Law Firm can help!
What Kind of Crimes are Felonies?
Violent felonies can be anything from First Degree Murder (the most serious crime in North Carolina) to Robbery with a Dangerous Weapon (Armed Robbery). Violent felonies also include rapes, sex offenses, violent assaults, attempted murder, manslaughter (a form of killing), burglaries. Other felonies include such crimes as drug trafficking, possession of drugs with intent to sell and deliver (PWISD), manufacturing of drugs, larceny, embezzlement, and obtaining property by false pretenses and other kinds of thefts, and Breaking & Entering.
In addition, felonies also can include sentencing enhancement laws. These are laws that punish repeat offenses. For instance, North Carolina has a habitual felon law (three strikes) which increases the punishment for someone’s fourth (or more) felony conviction. North Carolina also has a less common violent habitual felon law, which imposes a life sentence for a second violent felony. And North Carolina has a habitual assault law, which punishes multiple assaults more harshly.A key 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. These rights are restored after prison or probation ends. In addition, a person who is a convicted felon may never possess a firearm or ammunition for a firearm ever again. If the person does, the person is liable for up to 10 years in federal prison for mere possession of something as small as a shotgun shell.
Overall, a felony conviction is a serious matter. If possible, you should hire a lawyer as quickly as possible if you believe you may be charged with a felony. And under no circumstances should you speak with police about the case without your lawyer present.
Can Anything be Done to Reduce My Sentence?
Above I describe various appeals that are available to someone convicted of a crime. While the chances for success are slim, those are the best chances for success. In general – short of a pardon, or the very rare event where someone is found innocent of a crime after conviction – there is no way to reduce a prison sentence if no errors are found with how the trial was conducted.
How Much Will an Attorney Cost?
The cost of hiring an attorney to handle a felony varies a great deal. Some felonies can be handled relatively easily. But many felonies require a great deal of work, review, and investigation. Many times a client will hire an attorney to represent them at the District Court level on the felony. Fees generally start at $2,500 to handle the District Court stage of a felony. If the case is eventually sent to Superior Court, the fees are negotiable for continued representation. For more information, view our legal services page!