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North Carolina Criminal Law Chapter 14-1: Felonies and Misdemeanors Defined

Definition and Elements of Felonies

North Carolina recognizes Common Law offenses, unless specifically repealed by the General Assembly. Crimes under the North Carolina Criminal Law Chapter 14:1 defines felony and misdemeanor charges.

A felony is a criminal offense that:

  • Under the Common Law is a Felony
  • May be punished by the Death Penalty
  • May be punished by Imprisonment
  • Defined as a felony under the General Statutes

A misdemeanor is defined as:

  • Any other crime that is not a felony

To prove a defendant committed a felony, a prosecutor must prove Beyond a Reasonable Doubt every element of an offense. The accused, through all stages of the prosecution, is Presumed Innocent and bears no burden of proof or production.

The Defendant may not be called to testify against him or herself. Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt in North Carolina is doubt that fully satisfies or entirely convinces the Finder of Fact of the defendant’s guilt.

Common Law Offenses

Common law offenses are crimes under British criminal law that “commonly known” and “understood” to be crimes. Common law crimes were established exclusively in courts of law and not statutes or codes created by the legislative branch of government.

Criminal Laws in the United States are often assumed to have been created by statute or criminal codes. Less than one-half of states have fully abolished common law crimes. The majority of the individual states retain some level of common law offenses and the related common law defenses to crimes.

Eighteen states have abolished common law crimes entirely either by express statutory provisions specifically abolishing the common law or implicitly by adopting comprehensive criminal codes/statutes.

Examples of English Common Law Crimes:
  • Accessory
  • Administration of drugs
  • Affray
  • Arson
  • Assault (Common Assault)
  • Assault with intent to rape
  • Assault with intent to rob
  • Attempt
  • Battery
  • Barratry, inciting litigation for profit
  • Being a common scold
  • Blasphemy
  • Blasphemous libel
  • Breach of prison
  • Breaking prison
  • Breach of the peace
  • Bribery - Offering or paying a bribe
  • Buggery
  • Burglary
  • Champerty
  • Champerty and maintenance
  • Cheating
  • Compounding treason
  • Compounding a felony
  • Concealment of treasure trove
  • Conspiracy
  • Contempt of court
  • Contempt of the sovereign
  • Defamatory libel
  • Eavesdropping
  • Effecting a public mischief
  • Embracery
  • Escape from lawful custody
  • Espionage
  • Extortion
  • Fabrication of false evidence
  • Forcible entry
  • Forcible detainer
  • Forgery
  • Harboring a fugitive or felon
  • High treason
  • Housebreaking with intent to steal
  • Incitement
  • Inebriation
  • Kidnapping
  • Larceny
  • Maintenance
  • Malicious Mischief
  • Manslaughter
  • Mayhem
  • Mobbing
  • Murder
  • Nightwalking
  • Obscene Libel
  • Offering a bribe
  • Outraging public decency
  • Petty Treason
  • Piracy
  • Public Nuisance
  • Rape
  • Riot
  • Robbery
  • Sedition
  • Seditious Libel
  • Unlawful Assembly
  • Use of threats to extort
  • Willful Fireraising

Examples of English Common Law Defenses:

  • Mental Disorder
  • Automatism
  • Duress
  • Intoxication
  • Lawful Capacity of Office
  • Mistake of Fact
  • Necessity / Lesser harm
  • Self defense

If you, a friend, or family member has been accused of a crime, it is important to seek legal advice from an experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer. The defense attorneys at Powers Law Firm PA are dedicated to hard work, compassion, and attention to detail.

Both felony and misdemeanor charges carry the potential for long-term consequences including things like costs of court, fines, fees, community service, substance abuse treatment, supervised probation, unsupervised probation, active jail time, and/or a prison sentence.

Bill Powers is the 2016-2017 President of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice (NCAJ) with more than 26 years of courtroom experience helping people with North Carolina criminal charges. Mr. Powers is also an NBTA National Board of Trial Advocacy Criminal Law Specialist.

For more information about felony or misdemeanor charges, and to schedule your free consultation, call the Criminal Defense Attorneys at the Powers Law Firm PA. 704-342-4357

All consultations are confidential.

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