Different states in the United States have their own iterations of certain laws, and North Carolina is no exception. North Carolina has adopted a structured sentencing system for felonies and misdemeanors beginning 1994. This will help the effort in minimizing sentencing differences and streamline the sentencing process.
Structured sentencing classifies each case based on the severity of the crime, alongside the felon’s previous criminal convictions. From these guidelines, a chart can be formed that can set the range of potential sentences the judge can create.
Felony offenses are then classified into “levels” depending on their severity. Class A felonies are considered the most severe, and Class I the least.
Handling Felony Cases
Felony charges in any state require skilled and experienced legal representation from experienced attorney. If the State is proven to not have sufficient evidence to prove that one has committed a felony, then one may be entitled to a dismissal and even reduction of the charge.
If the State has violated civil rights during the investigation, the judge may even suppress evidence in the case. This disallows the State from using it in the trial, which may eventually result in the dismissal of the case.
North Carolina prosecutions begin with the district court. Low-level felonies are often resolved in district courts through plea deals in order to reduce charges. However, depending on one’s record, someone may even participate in community service or substance abuse counseling that can potentially dismiss the case.
It is only when the district court cannot settle the case that the prosecutor may be able to submit this to the grand jury. If the grand jury determines probable cause, then the case will be transferred to the superior court.
Superior court cases are still allowed to be resolved through plea negotiations. Pleading not guilty may result in a jury trial, which will involve 12 randomly-selected members of the community. In these trials, the burden is on the state to prove that a person is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. If the jury finds someone guilty, the judge will impose a sentence on a case. If one is convicted, one may appeal to the North Carolina Court of Appeals.