Misdemeanor charges vary greatly and encompass everything from traffic offenses to drug crimes and violent crimes. Make no mistake, misdemeanor charges are serious and a conviction can have a lasting impact on your life. A misdemeanor conviction can negatively impact school, jobs, housing, and many more areas of your life. The Triangle Criminal Defense Group team has substantial experience defending clients against all types of misdemeanor charges.
The District Courts of North Carolina have jurisdiction over misdemeanor charges. The defense negotiates with the assistant district attorney in court or before the court date in an effort to reach a resolution that is satisfactory to the defendant. If no agreement can be reached, the case proceeds to trial, where a judge sits as the finder of law and the finder of fact. A conviction in District Court may be appealed to Superior Court for a new trial, where a jury of your peers sits as the finder of fact.
Marijuana may be “decriminalized” in North Carolina, but it is still a misdemeanor crime. “Decriminalized,” in North Carolina, means you cannot be sentenced to active jail time at sentencing for a conviction of possessing less than .5 ounces of marijuana. It is still a misdemeanor conviction, and your probation can be revoked activating the sentence suspended at sentencing. Possessing more than .5 ounces does not have the same statutory “decriminalization” provisions.
Other misdemeanor drug crimes include possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of small amounts of certain prescription drugs. Drug paraphernalia includes tools with which drugs are used and containers that hold drugs.
Alcohol offenses in North Carolina are numerous. A conviction can affect a person’s driver license, insurance, and employment. Individuals under the age of 21 face charges for possessing alcohol or for driving after consuming with any alcohol remaining in their system. Any individual, regardless of age, can be charged if there is an open container in the passenger area of a vehicle or for driving while impaired. Each charge entails a different set of elements that must be alleged and proven by the prosecution.
Misdemeanor assaults range from simple assault to aggravated assaults falling just short of felony charges. Some aggravated misdemeanor assaults include assault on a female, assault inflicting serious injury, assault with a deadly weapon, assault by pointing a gun, assault on a child under 12, assault in the presence of a minor, and simple assault on a handicapped person.
Careless and reckless driving, hit and run, driving while license revoked (DWLR), and even high speeding tickets are actually misdemeanor crimes. One should never just pay the fine for a traffic ticket, especially an aggravated offense. With aggravated traffic offenses your privilege to drive is on the line, not just insurance rates. DWLR citations have the potential to suspend your driving privilege for 1 year, even if the charge is reduced.
Class 3 misdemeanors are punishable by up to 20 days in jail. Class A1 misdemeanors are punishable by up to 150 days in jail. The specific offense, aggravating factors and mitigating factors, and a defendant’s criminal record influence the punishment at sentencing.
A conviction at the District Court level may be appealed to Superior Court for a trial de novo, or “new trial.” In Superior Court, motions can be argued again to a Superior Court judge, and the defendant has the option of having the case tried in front of a jury. There are benefits and risks of appealing a case to Superior Court. To discuss these issues, contact Triangle Criminal Defense Group for a free consultation.