Your Fayetteville Criminal Case: The Basics

The Fayetteville Police arrested your kid brother Lenny last night. Turns out he stole your neighbor's car and then tried selling it to an undercover officer. He never was the brightest in your family. Regardless of how you or someone you know has had a wrong-way run-in with the law, it is important to have an idea of what lies ahead. We've put together some basic, general information to help you get acquainted with the misdemeanor and felony laws in North Carolina.

What Happens During a Fayetteville Arrest?

Generally, police must have a warrant or believe they have probable cause to arrest someone for a misdemeanor and/or a felony. The officer either personally witnessed a crime or a witness reported it. The individual will typically be arrested and read their Miranda rights.

Do the Police Have to Follow Any Rules?

Yes, they do. This isn't the Wild West with gun-toting sheriffs who run the town at all costs. The police are required to follow a certain set of rules or their actions could jeopardize the Cumberland County district attorney's case against you. You have a certain set of criminal rights, such as the right against illegal searches and seizures and the right to have a lawyer present during questioning.

Who is Miranda?

You've all heard about Miranda. It's a law, not just a TV show character from "Sex in the City." The police need to tell your Miranda rights anytime you are in custody and the subject of interrogation. Here's a basic rendition:

"You have the right to remain silent, Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law, You have the right to consult with a lawyer and have that lawyer present during the interrogation, If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed to represent you."

Getting Out of Jail

If you or someone you know was arrested and in custody, they are likely at the Cumberland County Detention Center. There is an online resource for those trying to find an inmate.

After being arrested, you or a loved one will be booked and either released with a promise to appear at a later date or have to post a bond.

Where Can I Get a Lawyer?

Since you'll be dealing with the Fayetteville courts, you might consider speaking to a lawyer. You can hire a Fayetteville criminal defense lawyer or ask for the public defender (PDF).

North Carolina Criminal Laws and Penalties

North Carolina's Penal Code is detailed and rather complicated. There's a crime for just about everything you can think of. In short, however, criminal offenses are broken down into the following categories, ranked from most serious to less serious:

  • Felonies (Class A, Class B1, B2,C-I)
  • Misdemeanors (Class A, Class B, Class C)

North Carolina Felonies

North Carolina uses a sentencing chart to determine the sentence range for any felony offense. A Class I felony, the least serious type of felony, carries a maximum penalty of 12 months in jail. A Class A felony, the most serious type of felony, carries a maximum penalty of either life in prison or death.

Examples of Fayetteville felonies include as arson, burglary, armed robbery, fraud and voluntary manslaughter. Many of the most serious felonies involve sexual violence, such as statutory or forcible rape.

North Carolina Misdemeanors

Misdemeanors might be considered less serious than felonies, but take note, a conviction or guilty plea can have consequences on your career, your educational opportunities, and your freedom. In Cumberland County, a typical misdemeanor case will take anywhere from one to five months. The simpler the case, the more likely it will be resolved quickly.

Typical North Carolina misdemeanors include drug possession, assault, stalking, certain traffic offenses, threats, some domestic violence, and driving while impaired (DWI) offenses. North Carolina misdemeanors are classified into four classes, with Class A1 being the most serious and Class 3 being the least.

Class 3

  • Maximum penalty: 20 days in jail and a $200 fine.
  • Examples: Simple possession of marijuana, theft in a store, and city code violations.

Class 2

  • Maximum penalty: 60 days in jail and a $1000 fine.
  • Examples: Simple assault, disorderly conduct, resisting a police officer, and carrying a concealed weapon.

Class 1

  • Maximum penalty: 120 days in jail and a discretionary fine.
  • Examples: Possession of drug paraphernalia, larceny, possession of stolen goods, damaging real or personal property, communicating threats, and prostitution.

Class A1

  • Maximum penalty: 150 days in jail and a discretionary fine.
  • Examples: Assault with a deadly weapon, assault inflicting serious injury, assault on a female or a government employee, violation of a restraining order, and sexual battery.

A Final Word about Fayetteville Criminal Cases

Remember that criminal cases can have a serious, lasting impact on someone's life. A defendant has options and rights and anyone charged with an offense may want to at least consider consulting a Fayetteville criminal defense attorney for more information specific to their particular circumstances.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.