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Thoughts on Criminal Defense in North Carolina

What Are The Penalties For A Murder Or A Manslaughter Conviction?


In North Carolina, there are only two penalties for first degree murder: the death penalty or life without parole. A second degree murder is classified as a B-1 felony. Under certain circumstances, second degree murder it considered a B-2 felony. Both the B-1 and B-2 charges are very high level offenses and carry penalties of more than 10 years in prison for each count. In some cases, these offenses may carry a penalty of more than 20 years in prison for each count.

Voluntary manslaughter is a Class D offense, so it’s still a high level felony and it requires an act of punishment under most circumstances. Even with extraordinary mitigation, the least amount of time that a person will receive for a conviction of voluntary manslaughter is 44 months in prison. Involuntary manslaughter is a lower level offense, and depending upon the type of offense, a convicted individual may be eligible for probation. However, most of those sentences result in an active prison sentence.

What Are The Possible Defenses For A Murder Or A Manslaughter Charge?

One of the most successful defenses to first degree murder is self-defense. If there was a fight or some sort of engagement between the two parties leading up to the incident, then self-defense is a viable defense. Another defense to first degree murder is the assertion that the person simply didn’t commit the act in question- they’ve got the wrong person. Or, it could be argued that the defendant lacked the mental capacity to form specific intent to kill, which would mean that they may be convicted of a lesser included offense, such as second degree murder. So, the primary defenses to first degree murder are as follows: (1) self-defense; (2) it’s just the wrong person; (3) lack of specific intent to kill.

Do Murder And Manslaughter Cases Generally Go To Trial Or Do They Plead Out?

Sometimes murder and manslaughter cases go to trial, and sometimes they plead out. Most of the cases I’ve tried over the last few years have been murder cases. Because there is so much at stake and they are often difficult to resolve, they are more likely to go to trial than is a typical drug case. However, many murder and manslaughter cases do resolve with a plea agreement, which can range from a person accepting life without parole, to voluntary manslaughter. It just depends on the circumstances.

Why Is It Critical To Hire An Experienced Attorney To Handle Murder Or Manslaughter Charges?

The more serious the case, the more complex it is. It is hard to describe how complex the investigation of these cases is, and how many different things you have to consider. Sentencing factors, the possible outcomes of sentencing hearings, and jury selection are critical factors in these cases. That is why it is critical to have someone who has experience selecting jurors to ensure that you get a fair jury.

Murder cases generally carry a lot of publicity, especially with the 24 hour news cycle. In fact, it’s not uncommon for these cases to be televised. So, it’s important to be able to deal with the various elements that are occurring not only within the case, but also surrounding the case. Ultimately, there is just so much at stake.

For more information on Penalties For Murder & Manslaughter, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (919) 967-0504 today.

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