Information from Hensley Law Firm about property crimes in North Carolina, including the law, potential consequences, and legal issues.
Crimes against property in North Carolina can be very serious, many of the crimes being charged as felonies. Property crimes include charges like larceny, shoplifting, breaking and entering, burglary, arson, vandalism, and trespass, each with its own set of elements that must be proven by the prosecutor to find a defendant guilty of the charge.
Because the severity of assault charges varies, so does the realm of potential consequences associated with them. In the early 1990's, the North Carolina legislature adopted Structured Sentencing, described in the Citizen's Guide to Structured Sentencing as "the method of sentencing and punishing criminals in North Carolina. It classifies offenders on the basis of the severity of their crime and on the extent and gravity of their prior criminal record. Based on these two factors, structured sentencing provides judges with sentencing options for the type and length of sentences which may be imposed." Structured sentencing does not apply to implied-consent offenses and certain drug trafficking offenses. Because of the case-by-case approach that structured sentencing employs, the consequences for property crime charges range from fines to significant jail or prison time.
The majority of property crimes require mens rea, or some form of intent to commit the crime. Property crimes by accident are very rare; the person who commits the offense must usually intend to do some form of harm. Additionally, mistakes in what the offender believed to be the situation at hand can make a difference in whether a crime was actually committed.
Many times, unless a law enforcement officer observed the property crime, the victim must be present in court to present evidence of the crime. If the victim is not present, the prosecution cannot prove its case.
Why Hire an Attorney?
It is important to have a trained, experienced attorney analyze your case to determine if you have a valid defense to the charge. A knowledgeable attorney knows that if the victim is not present in court, the prosecutor may ask for additional time to secure the witness and will know when and how to object to such requests from the prosecution such that the prosecutor will dismiss the case. Because property crimes have such specific elements that must be proven by the prosecutor, having an attorney by your side can ensure that the judge or jury recognize the prosecution has not met its burden in proving all the necessary elements, resulting in an acquittal or even dismissal of the charges.
Have questions about NC property crimes? I am always happy to give free consultations and speak with you about your situation to assess your options.
Hensley Law Firm provides criminal defense representation in:
Mars Hill, Marshall, Hot Springs, and surrounding areas (Madison County)
Asheville, Weaverville, Leicester, Black Mountain, Swannanoa, and surrounding areas (Buncombe County)
Burnsville and surrounding areas (Yancey County)