9th November 2023
- A Class C felony is an offense the law considers more severe than a misdemeanor yet not as serious as other felonies.
- Examples include possession of a small amount of an illegal drug, minor forms of assault, and others.
- Punishments for different types of Class C offenses can vary significantly.
- A conviction can cause significant consequences for years to come.
- Skilled attorneys know how to provide effective defense strategies and can also work to expunge a conviction from a person’s record.
You face a Class C felony charge and might think it’s not serious. A police officer might have arrested you for possessing an illegal drug. An officer might have charged you with an assault resulting from a bar fight, and you’re looking at a Class C charge. You assume the penalties aren’t harsh, so you’re not worried about hiring a lawyer.
The truth is much different. A charge for any felony carries severe consequences, ones you might not realize. If found guilty, you could spend years in jail.
Please don’t risk it. Speak with a Sand Law attorney immediately. We’ll do everything possible to prove your innocence or reduce your penalties. Schedule a free consultation by calling 651-291-7263 or contacting us online.
Defining a Class C Felony in North Dakota
The law broadly categorizes crimes into two main groups: misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors are less severe, while felonies are more serious.
Felonies come with more significant legal consequences than misdemeanors. These consequences can range from hefty fines and probation to imprisonment. As you’ll see later, penalties for Class C felonies are at the lower end of this scale. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be concerned.
Examples of Class C Felonies
Several offenses fall into the category of Class C felony. The types of crimes falling into this category may include assault, burglary and theft, drug possession, arson, and other offenses the law deems significant enough to warrant felony charges.
For example, state law treats some forms of assault as a misdemeanor and others as a felony. If you were in a fight that caused minor injuries to another, then you’ll probably face a Class B misdemeanor. The penalties are up to 30 days in jail or a maximum fine of $1,500.
However, if you hurt someone so severely they suffer permanent mental or physical damage, state law will treat that offense as a Class C felony. You could face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
The Criminal Process for Class C Felonies
In North Dakota, the criminal process for Class C felonies, like all felony cases, is a serious legal matter that involves multiple stages. The process can be complex, and it’s crucial to understand your rights and the steps involved. Remember that the legal system may evolve, so it’s always a good idea to consult an attorney who can provide the most up-to-date guidance. Here is a general overview of the criminal process for Class C felonies in North Dakota:
- Investigation – The law enforcement investigation may involve interviews, evidence collection, and surveillance. If you’re a suspect, you may or may not be aware of this phase.
- Arrest – If law enforcement believes they have enough evidence to charge you with a Class C felony, they will arrest you. Police will take you into custody and read your Miranda rights. These include the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney.
- Initial appearance – The judge will inform you of the charges and may set bail. You’ll also have the chance to retain an attorney or have one appointed if you can’t afford one.
- Arraignment – Arraignment is the formal court hearing where the judge asks you to state your plea (guilty, not guilty, or no contest). It’s important to have legal representation at this stage to make an informed decision about your plea.
- Pretrial Proceedings – This phase includes discovery, where the prosecution and defense exchange evidence and information. Your attorney may file motions to address legal issues, such as the admissibility of evidence. Negotiations for a plea bargain may also occur during this time.
- Trial – If there is no plea agreement, the case goes to trial. Trials can be before a judge or jury, depending on your preference. Both sides present their case, and the court reaches a verdict.
- Sentencing – If the court finds you guilty or you enter a guilty plea, a sentencing hearing will follow. The judge will consider various factors, including the nature of the offense, your criminal history, and any mitigating or aggravating circumstances, to determine your sentence.
- Appeal – If you believe there were errors in the legal process that affected your case, you have the right to appeal your conviction. Appeals can be complex. Your lawyer must file them within specific timeframes.
Penalties and Sentences in North Dakota
In North Dakota, Class C felonies carry different penalties and sentences. The penalties you will face hinge on several factors. These factors encompass the specific crime committed, your criminal history, and the unique circumstances surrounding the case. The judicial process aims to consider these variables to ensure just penalties.
Judges can impose different sentences for the same general crime category. Take sexual assault, for example. If it involves “gross imposition,” the perpetrator could face a Class AA felony, which carries a maximum penalty of life without parole. An example is threatening the victim with severe injury or death if they don’t submit.
If a therapist (or someone posing as a therapist) has sexual contact with a client during treatment or a consultation, that person could face a Class C felony. As stated earlier, this charge carries a maximum prison sentence of five years and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Defending Against a Class C Felony Charge
Fortunately, you have several defense strategies if facing Class C felony charges. These strategies can include the following:
- Challenging the evidence.
- Asserting your legal rights.
- Negotiating a plea deal with the prosecution.
The specific defense strategy your attorney employs will depend on the unique circumstances, facts, and legal intricacies involved. Police, for example, may have violated your rights when arresting you. Authorities may have failed to correctly follow protocols when handling evidence.
A skilled lawyer will explore every avenue to either have your charge dropped or reduce your penalties.
The Role of Plea Agreements
Plea agreements, or plea bargains, are an essential and commonly used element in the criminal justice system. They play a significant role in the legal process and have several purposes, benefits, and implications. Here is an explanation of the role of plea agreements:
Resolution of Cases
One of the primary roles of plea agreements is to expedite the resolution of criminal cases. High caseloads bog down the criminal justice system, and trials can be time-consuming and costly. By negotiating plea agreements, both the prosecution and defense can reach a mutually acceptable resolution, saving time and resources.
Certainty and Predictability
For defendants, plea agreements offer a degree of certainty and predictability. By entering into a plea agreement, a defendant can know the specific consequences they will face, rather than leaving it to the uncertainty of a trial outcome.
Reduced Charges and Penalties
In many cases, a defendant’s attorney may negotiate a plea agreement that involves reduced charges or penalties compared to what they might face if they were to go to trial and be found guilty. Prosecutors may be willing to accept a plea to a lesser charge or recommend a lighter sentence in exchange for a guilty plea.
Long-Term Consequences of a Class C Felony Conviction in North Dakota
The consequences of a Class C felony conviction aren’t limited to the immediate penalties the court imposes. These repercussions can be far-reaching and extend well beyond the completion of your sentence. Such long-term consequences might include the following:
- Finding a job.
- Finding a place to live.
- Owning a firearm.
- Obtaining a student loan or government assistance.
Contact Sand Law to Speak with an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you face Class C felony charges in North Dakota, you must seek legal representation promptly. A Sand Law attorney can help you understand your legal options and work to help you achieve the best possible outcome. Schedule a free case review by using our online form or calling 651-291-7263.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the maximum prison sentence for a Class C felony in North Dakota?
The maximum prison sentence for a crime in this category is five years.
Can a Class C felony be expunged from my record in North Dakota?
Yes, it can. An expungement doesn’t make the felony disappear but seals your record. A court order is the only way anyone can disclose your criminal record. Speak with an experienced attorney for more information on record expungement.
What are the financial penalties associated with a Class C felony conviction?
The maximum financial penalty for a Class C felony is $10,000.