When you commit a crime, you should be held accountable for it. But when you commit another crime, the penalties may become more serious. This is the premise for habitual offender laws, also known as “three-strike” laws. These laws impose more penalties on those who are convicted of committing multiple crimes.
In North Carolina, someone is considered a habitual offender if they have been convicted of three felony crimes. The severity of the penalties is dependent upon the nature of each crime (violent versus non-violent) and gets more serious with every conviction.
Under North Carolina’s “habitual felon law,” anyone “who has been convicted of or pled guilty to three felony offenses in any federal court or state court in the United States or a combination thereof is declared to be a habitual felony and may be charged as a status offender…”
What Is a Felony Offense Under the Statute?
For the purposes of its habitual felon law, North Carolina defines a felony offense as:
- An offense that is a felony under the laws of this State.
- An offense that is a felony under the laws of another state or sovereign that is substantially similar to an offense that is a felony in North Carolina, and to which a plea of guilty was entered, or a conviction was returned regardless of the sentence actually imposed.
- An offense that is a crime under the laws of another state or sovereign that does not classify any crimes as felonies if all of the following apply:
- The offense is substantially similar to an offense that is a felony in North Carolina.
- The offense may be punishable by imprisonment for more than a year in state prison.
- A plea of guilty was entered or a conviction was returned regardless of the sentence actually imposed.
- An offense that is a felony under federal law. Provided, however, that federal offenses relating to the manufacture, possession, sale, and kindred offenses involving intoxicating liquors shall not be considered felonies for the purposes of this Article.
If someone is sentenced under the habitual felon law, he or she will receive a sentence much higher in class than the original felony for which they were convicted. However, the class of their sentence will not be any higher than a Class C felony, which carries a punishment of up to 231 months in prison.
The exception for this is anyone who has been convicted of multiple felonies prior to their 18th birthday. Any of the felonies committed prior are treated as a single felony for purposes of North Carolina’s habitual felon law.
Habitual offender laws apply differently in every situation, which can make matters complicated.
Hancock Law Firm, PLLC Helps Those in North Carolina Who Have Been Convicted of Multiple Felonies
If you have been convicted of multiple felonies and are facing punishment under the habitual offender law, you may have options. You have the right to offer evidence to mitigate your sentence. 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 learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!