A new domestic violence law went into effect on Dec. 1 in North Carolina. This law, dubbed Britny’s Law in honor of the original victim, will create harsher penalties for certain domestic violence convictions. Below, we’re going to explain how the new law came about and what it may mean if you are charged with domestic violence, then touch on a few other domestic violence bills recently signed by the governor.
The History of Britny’s Law
In November 2014, 22-year-old Britny Puryear was killed by her live-in boyfriend, Logan McLean, after four years in an abusive relationship.
Logan McLean is currently serving a 32-year sentence after pleading guilty to second degree murder. Britny’s parents advocated for a first degree murder charge, however, and were not happy with the plea deal. That’s how the idea for Britny’s Law began.
Over the past few years, the Puryear family worked with the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence to create the new law. The basic idea is that in a situation where an offender has prior convictions of domestic violence against the same victim, Britny’s Law creates a new presumption for premeditation.
For the prosecution to convict an individual of first degree murder in North Carolina, normally they must prove that the defendant thought about the crime before it was committed. However, the need for proof of premeditation is waived when another crime is being committed, such as rape or armed robbery.
Now, under Britny’s Law, the prosecution will not need to prove premeditation in a homicide case where the defendant has prior domestic violence convictions against the victim. The previous convictions will serve as proof of premeditation.
The North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence drafted the new law based on a similar law in Minnesota, where a first degree murder charge applies to domestic violence homicide cases.
North Carolina’s Changing Domestic violence Laws
Britny’s family is still advocating for domestic violence law reform. They now want to change the laws to charge spouses or dating partners with first degree murder in domestic homicide cases.
In addition to Britny’s Law, Gov. Cooper also signed other new domestic violence laws which will enable stronger orders of protection for victims of domestic violence. They will also allow law enforcement officers and prosecuting attorneys to pursue cases when an offender posts private images online without the consent of his or her partner.
Beyond these new laws, North Carolina domestic violence charges largely remain the same. Abuse is prohibited between people in a personal relationship, such as spouses, dating partners, parents, children, and household members.
A charge of domestic violence is a Class A1 misdemeanor. If a deadly weapon was used in the act of domestic violence, or if serious injury occurred to the victim, the penalties can be enhanced.
If you are convicted on a Class A1 misdemeanor charge, you can expect a jail sentence of up to 60 days plus supervised probation for a first-time offense. You may also be required to pay a fine, the amount of which is up to the court. If you have a repeat offense, you may be required to serve up to 150 days in prison.
Your Options If You Are Facing Charges in North Carolina
As you can see, a conviction for domestic violence carries serious penalties in North Carolina. Your freedoms will be restricted not only if you are incarcerated, but even if you end up getting probation. Additionally, the penalties will carry over into your life after serving your sentence.
Your reputation will be permanently affected with a domestic violence conviction. Your case will be a matter of public record, which can negatively impact your ability to get a job, find decent housing, and live a normal life. That is why it is so important for you to call an experienced North Carolina criminal lawyer to begin building a defense against your charges.
It’s essential that you consult with an attorney before you make a statement to police to avoid inadvertently incriminating yourself. A skilled domestic violence lawyer can advise you on the best course forward and help you determine the best possible defense strategy.
Do not hesitate to reach out to a knowledgeable attorney with a proven record of defending others in your position. Contact us today for your free case review.
About the Author:
Jan Elliott Pritchett?is Managing Partner at the Law Firm of?Schlosser & Pritchett?and one of North Carolina’s top rated criminal defense attorneys. With a practice dedicated 100% to litigation, Mr. Pritchett protects the legal rights of clients who have been charged in federal and state criminal matters, as well as DUI/DWi, motor vehicle accidents, personal injury, and traffic violations. In practice since 1995, Mr. Pritchett has earned a reputation as a highly talented and fearless lawyer, being listed among the state’s “Legal Elite” and recognized as one of the Top 100 DWI Lawyers in North Carolina by the National Advocacy of DUI Defense.? He currently serves as the Co-Chairman of the North Carolina State Board of Legal Specialization, Criminal Law Specialty, and Vice-Chairman of the North Carolina Bar Association, Criminal Justice Section.