Allegations of domestic violence are taken very seriously in North Carolina. However, the charges you may be facing are not as “cut-and-dried” as you may think. Our team of domestic violence lawyers in Raleigh is sharing a breakdown of the different charges that fall under this classification and whether domestic violence is a felony in NC.
Defining Domestic Violence in North Carolina
Before we dive into the different charges, felonies, and misdemeanors, let’s define what domestic violence is. In North Carolina, it is considered an act of violence committed against an individual with whom there is a personal relationship. This can include:
- Spouses or romantic partners
- Former spouses or romantic partners
- Co-parents of shared children
- Family members, including parents or siblings
If you are accused of an act of violence, whether physical, sexual, or psychological (such as harassment) against someone you have a personal relationship or connection with, you won’t be charged with domestic violence. Domestic violence itself is not defined as a crime in the General Statute. Instead, many of the crimes associated with domestic violence have qualifiers making the penalties more harsh.
When Domestic Violence Is a Felony
Several acts of domestic violence can be charged as a felony.
Felony Assault & Battery
Assault is the act of committing bodily harm or a credible threat of bodily harm against another person. While most cases of assault are misdemeanors, the following factors can elevate it to a felony charge:
- Assault in which a life-threatening injury or serious bodily injury that causes chronic health complications occurrs is a Class F felony.
- Intent to kill using a deadly weapon, such as a knife, gun, or blunt object is a Class C felony.
- Assault by strangulation is a Class F felony.
Felony Sexual Assault
It’s a common misconception that sexual assault and rape are most often committed by strangers or acquaintances of the victim. However, sexual violence committed against someone with whom the accused has a personal relationship is considered domestic violence. Felony sexual domestic violence includes:
- First-degree forcible rape or sexual offense (any penetrative sexual act not including vaginal intercourse) in which the victim is injured or threatened with injury is a Class B1 felony.
- Second-degree forcible rape or sexual offense in which the victim is drugged or incapacitated is a Class C felony.
Stalking and Harassment
Stalking is a form of harassment that is intended to place the victim in fear for their safety or the safety of their friends and co-workers or causes the victim to experience serious emotional distress. Harassment refers to communication or actions from an individual in order to torment, scare, or threaten them, such as vandalizing the victim’s property, following them, or repeatedly calling and texting the victim.
Generally, a charge of stalking or harassment is a misdemeanor. However, when they are committed in violation of an existing protective order or when there are previous convictions of stalking, the charges will be elevated to a felony.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Domestic Violence Lawyer
If you are accused of domestic violence, whether it’s a misdemeanor or a felony, you are facing serious consequences, including time in jail and a criminal record and need the assistance of a criminal defense attorney. We can help you fight these charges, providing dedicated advocacy and experienced counsel to achieve the best practical outcome. Call us at (919) 887-8040 to speak with an attorney 24 hours a day, 7 days a week or fill out the form below to get started.