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Misdemeanor, felony categorization can affect consequences

| Jul 10, 2020 | criminal law

No one wants to end up in trouble with law enforcement. You may have made your fair share of questionable choices in life, like everyone else, but you did not anticipate facing criminal charges over any of your actions. Unfortunately, even though you did not anticipate it, you did end up under arrest.

Now, you face a difficult situation that many others in North Carolina and across the country have faced: a criminal trial. Undoubtedly, you want to do your best to work toward favorable outcomes for your ordeal, but you may not know where to start. In most cases, gaining information on the type of allegation that law enforcement brought against you is wise.

Is it a misdemeanor or felony?

Hopefully, whatever charges you face, they fall into the category of a misdemeanor. Misdemeanor allegations typically come with less severe consequences in the event that the court does find you guilty of the charges. Often, the maximum amount of jail time that comes with sentencing for a misdemeanor is one year. However, the exact length of time can depend on the category of misdemeanor, such as Class A, B or C. Class A is the most severe with potential jail time coming in at between six months and one year.

With a felony charge, you are at risk of more severe consequences, including time in a higher security prison than a county jail. Felonies can range from Class A to Class E, and a Class A felony conviction could result in life in prison or the death penalty.

What’s the difference?

Aside from the potential for more severe punishment, misdemeanors and felonies can differ, depending on the circumstances of the alleged criminal act. For example, a DWI charge could fall into the category of a misdemeanor if it is a person’s first offense and no extenuating circumstances exist. However, a DWI could become a felony if the person has multiple convictions for the same offense on his or her record or if other aggravating details apply.

Knowing whether the criminal charges against you are felony or misdemeanor allegations could have an important influence on how you approach your criminal defense. As a result, you may want to go over the details of your situation with an experienced attorney who can assess the charges and explain the most viable defense options for you.