I’m attorney Derek Gray of Graystar Legal. We are a criminal law firm located here in Winston Salem, North Carolina, and this is our FAQ series.
So today’s topic that I wanted to cover, or the question that we received, was specifically related to domestic violence. And the question is: When does a domestic violence charge rise to the level of a felony in North Carolina?
So, usually, I’ll jump into the actual law specifically, but the answer to this question is a little more general. So I’ll say it like this—domestic violence charges arise to the felony level, typically in two circumstances in North Carolina.
The first is repetition. So whenever you’ve been convicted of a prior charge or prior domestic violence offense, and you pick up a subsequent offense, the state of North Carolina can elevate that charge to a felony, and it’s charge specific.
So, for instance, assault, if you’ve been convicted of two prior assaults within 15 years, on this third assault, the state of North Carolina can elevate that to a Class H Felony; it’s called habitual misdemeanor assault.
If you’ve been convicted of a prior stalking charge and pick up another stalking charge, the state of North Carolina can elevate that to a Class F felony. Domestic violence protective order violation—we call them 50-B’s—if you pick up a 50-B violation and say you’ve had two prior 50-B convictions for violating the protective order. On that third one, the state of North Carolina can elevate it to a Class H felony.
So, we really punish repetition in North Carolina. And then, on the flip side, you also have injury. And injury is not exclusive to a domestic violence charge. Just in general, depending on the nature of the injury that an individual suffers through an assault, that charge can be elevated.
Now, obviously, the state of North Carolina will take into consideration any prior assaultive history you have, even if you don’t rise to the level of misdemeanor habitual assault. However, if it is a serious enough injury, that can be elevated.
So two circumstances in North Carolina in which your domestic violence charge can be elevated to a felony: repetition and injury.
Guys, I hope this answers your question. If you’ve been charged with a domestic violence offense and you need representation, or you have further questions, please reach out to the office. I would love to speak with you more and tell you how I might be able to help you. Thank you.