Can a Felony be Reduced to a Misdemeanor in North Carolina?
A felony conviction can affect nearly all aspects of a person’s life, from their ability to drive and vote, to their housing and employment prospects — not to mention jail time, fines, and other more immediate penalties. Once a conviction has been made, it is difficult to mitigate these consequences. For this reason, facing a felony charge in North Carolina can be a terrifying and overwhelming experience.
However, the best time to combat this problem head-on is right now, after you have been charged and before you are convicted. It may not feel like it, but you actually have the most power to positively affect the outcome at this point. Why is that? Because at this point, it may still be possible to negotiate a lower charge or less severe penalties. Talking to an experienced criminal defense attorney will give you the best sense of your options moving forward, and can help you come up with a customized game plan to ensure the best possible outcome in your case. While there are many factors and circumstances to be considered, it is possible, and hardly uncommon, for a felony charge to be reduced to a misdemeanor or dropped entirely in North Carolina.
What Kind of Felony Charges Can be Reduced to Misdemeanors?
There are no black and white rules dictating which felony charges can be reduced to misdemeanors. Instead, the outcome will really depend on the unique facts and circumstances of your individual case, including the nature of the alleged crime and any relevant criminal history.
For instance, killing another motorist while driving drunk if you have two previous DUIs is unlikely to be reduced, as this is a demonstrated pattern of dangerous and illegal behavior, which has now escalated to fatal harm. While it is unlikely this charge would be dropped significantly, there may still be room to negotiate a plea bargain. A plea bargain could help you avoid the harshest possible sentence and a jury trial by agreeing to negotiated terms and conditions, such as serving a specified amount of jail time, completing an alcohol treatment program, or other agreed-upon terms.
On the other hand, a charge of statutory rape, brought against a 19-year-old boy for having a consensual sexual relationship with his 17 ½-year-old girlfriend, where the boy has no prior criminal history, is an excellent candidate for a reduced sentence or possibly even dismissal. A charge of statutory rape carries serious criminal penalties, including a listing on the sex-offender registry. This could easily derail a young person’s life.
I Have Been Charged with a Felony: What Should I Do?
If you have been charged with a felony, the best thing you can do is hire an experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The earlier on in the process that you retain counsel, the better likelihood that they will be able to get your charges reduced or dismissed, or negotiate a plea bargain that works for you.
Schedule a Consultation
If you have been charged with a felony, in many ways you are fighting for your life and your livelihood. Contact the experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorneys at Coastal South Law today to schedule a consultation.