Couple fighting while child cries in home.

Can Domestic Violence Be Considered a Felony in NC?

By Joel Hancock

Domestic violence is treated very seriously in North Carolina, as it is in every other state. Those charged and convicted of such behavior will receive consequences correlating to the classification of domestic violence: misdemeanor or felony. So how are these classifications identified?

Domestic violence includes physical or sexual violence, such as:

  • Pushing
  • Shoving
  • Punching
  • Choking
  • Slapping
  • Hitting someone with an object
  • Throwing an object at someone
  • Rape
  • Sexual assault

Defendants of Domestic Violence

Crimes of domestic violence are those ordinarily considered assault, battery, or sex crimes when not involving anyone in the special class of defendants. To be considered domestic violence, certain select individuals must also be the ones to conduct this violent behavior. Such people include:

  • Boyfriends
  • Girlfriends
  • Fiancés
  • Spouses
  • Dates
  • Person who resides under the same roof as the victim
  • Person with whom the victim has a child
  • Person previously in a relationship with the victim (sometimes)
  • Person previously residing with the victim (sometimes)

Unfortunately, although domestic violence is very serious when it occurs, sometimes those accused of such actions must battle a system that treats them as guilty before any evidence has proven so. 

False Allegations

Unfortunately, individuals will sometimes report false allegations of domestic violence in order to gain favor in an ongoing, ugly divorce or custody battle. 

Arrests with Minimal or No Evidence

The good news is that law enforcement is very aware of domestic violence and what it means for the victims of such crimes. The bad news is that sometimes law enforcement agencies, in their effort to protect individuals from harm, may place a defendant under arrest without the proper evidence.

No Due Process

The fast pace with which many law enforcement agencies arrest those accused of domestic violence can turn their lives upside down. Often they are immediately put into jail or face protective orders, which prevent them from going home.

Determining Classification: Felony or Misdemeanor

Whether or not domestic violence is filed as a misdemeanor or a felony is the choice of the prosecutor on the case. This classification can make a significant difference on the level of punishment that the defendant receives if convicted. Misdemeanors usually result in a fine and up to twelve months in jail; Felonies generally carry higher fines and longer periods of time in jail.

Other punishments include mandatory attendance in anger management or domestic violence intervention programs as well as a specific amount of community service, payment of a fine, and abiding by a protective order. 

Factors for Classifying Domestic Violence

The prosecutor generally looks at several factors when determining the classification of the crime:

  • Severity of the injuries
  • Prior convictions of the defendant
  • Prior reported incidents of abuse of the victim by the defendant

Attorney Joel Hancock at Hancock Law Firm, PLLC Helps Those in North Carolina Who Have Been Charged with a Crime

Whether considered as a misdemeanor or a felony, a domestic violence conviction can have a severe and long-lasting impact on your life. From finding a place to live to securing a job position, it can prove very difficult with such a conviction on your record. That’s why it is in your best interest to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. At Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, we fully understand what is at stake and will do everything that we can to help you fight these charges. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

About the Author
Joel Hancock is a native of Carteret County, NC. He devotes 100% of his practice to defending those accused of traffic infractions, DWI, misdemeanors, and felonies in Carteret County, NC.