Sadly, incidents of road rage have increased since the pandemic. With this, allegations of individuals shooting into occupied vehicles has also increased throughout North Carolina. There is a specific law against shooting into occupied dwellings, such as buildings, vehicles, and enclosures. The discharging of a firearm in North Carolina is a felony.
In an alleged case of shooting into an occupied dwelling, the defendant is not responsible for providing evidence and does not carry a burden of proof. Rather, the state (prosecution carries the burden). The state must establish prima facie elements in order for the case to continue further.
Prima Facie Elements of Shooting into an Occupied Dwelling
These initial elements include the following:
- The defendant intentionally discharged his or her firearm (it doesn’t require an intent to injure or kill anyone);
- The discharge was willful and wanton;
- It went into a property, vehicle, or other conveyance; and
- Another person was occupying such property, vehicle, or conveyance at the time that the firearm was discharged.
The Projectile Doesn’t Need to Enter the Dwelling or Injure Anyone
It’s important to note that sometimes it is enough to strike the exterior of a property depending upon the facts and circumstances of the case; It doesn’t always require a penetration of the dwelling. It may be enough to prove that the projectile struck the exterior of a building or something else attached to it. Additionally, the firing of the firearm doesn’t need to cause injury or death. For instance, if someone shot into the porch of a house someone was in, it could be enough for a conviction.
What Constitutes a Dwelling for Purposes of the Law?
There are a variety of places/things that may constitute a property for purposes of shooting into an occupied dwelling. Such “dwellings” include:
- Motor vehicle
- Erected Enclosures
- Public Building
- Private Building
Since every case is different, it’s important to look at the specific facts and circumstances in order to know how to defend yourself from such a charge. A qualified criminal defense attorney can help you to do just that.
Our Attorney at Hancock Law Firm, PLLC Help Those in North Carolina Who Have Been Charged with Shooting into an Occupied Dwelling
If you have been charged with shooting into an occupied dwelling it’s important that you take the charge seriously. You may have options. You have the right to defend yourself. Your best bet of doing so successfully is with the help of a knowledgeable and experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorney who understands what you are up against and will fight on your behalf.
At Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, we fully understand what is at stake and will do everything that we can to help you to fight this order. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!