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A single case requiring convictions on multiple offenses presents the court with a big decision: Whether the sentences should be completed concurrently or consecutively. You may be wondering what types of crimes would warrant a consecutive sentence. 

One great example involves a North Carolina man who, according to USA Today, was recently charged with over 300 sex crimes that involve over 130 children just this year. 

While all people are innocent until proven guilty under North Carolina sex crime laws, if the man is convicted, then he could be facing consecutive sentences that put him in jail for a period of time that would never amount to less than the rest of his life.

So, what does it mean to run felony sentences consecutively in North Carolina? Read on to find out all you need to know.

The Difference Between Consecutive and Concurrent Sentences

The difference between consecutive and concurrent sentences is fairly easy to understand. When someone is convicted of multiple offenses, whether they arise from the same incident or not, they may be required to serve their sentences either concurrently or consecutively.

A concurrent sentence means that each sentence overlaps, essentially being served at the same time. When it comes to consecutive sentencing, that means each sentence is served before the next sentence can begin.

How Sentencing is Determined by North Carolina Courts

It is the case’s presiding judge who typically decides whether sentences are to be served concurrently or consecutively. It’s not an uncommon tactic for the lawyers on both sides to agree to certain sentencing terms ahead of time, though, as part of the negotiation process.

However, there are situations in which there isn’t an option. There are some circumstances that require a convicted offender to serve the sentences for them consecutively. 

Previous Offenders

When a person is arrested for one crime and then commits another either a) prior to the date that they are discharged from parole, probation, or imprisonment for the first crime, or b) while they are out of jail on their own recognizance or out on bond for the first crime, they are required to serve sentences consecutively.

Aggravating Factors

Another situation in which consecutive sentencing may be used is when a firearm was used in the commission of a crime — an aggravating factor. Aggravating factors enhance sentencing. Enhanced sentencing must be served consecutively, or behind the sentence of the underlying conviction.

In any other scenario, courts will consider other mitigating or aggravating factors to determine if multiple offense sentences are to run concurrently or consecutively. 

If you have questions regarding your own sentencing, an experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorney can offer sound advice. 

When NC Sentencing Involves Crimes of Violence

Normally, there are limits to consecutive sentences with one exception – crimes of violence. When a conviction involves crimes of violence, there are no limits. 

Which Crimes Fall Under the Umbrella of Crimes of Violence?

  • Murder
  • Rape
  • Attempted murder
  • Kidnapping
  • Voluntary and involuntary manslaughter
  • Aggravated battery
  • Child molestation
  • Reckless homicide
  • Operating a vehicle while intoxicated and causing death or serious bodily injury
  • Criminal deviant conduct
  • Level 1, 2, 3, or 4 felony burglary
  • Level 2 or 3 felony robbery
  • Level 1 or 2 sexual misconduct with a minor
  • Level 4 or 5 felony child exploitation
  • Unlawful possession of a firearm by a violent felony
  • Felony resisting law enforcement

What is an Episode of Criminal Conduct?

For consecutive sentences to be enforced, the crimes must also be considered episodes of criminal conduct. This is defined as a connected series of crimes that are related by circumstance, place, and time. 

For any crime not considered a crime of violence, the episodes of criminal conduct that result in consecutive sentencing cannot exceed:

  • 4 years for a level 6 felony
  • 7 years for a level 5 felony
  • 15 years for a level 4 felony
  • 20 years for a level 3 felony
  • 32 years for a level 2 felony
  • 42 years for a level 1 felony

Greensboro Criminal Defense

The possible penalties for multiple offenses can vary in North Carolina. If you’re facing any of these counts, then it’s important to understand your rights and what can happen if you are sentenced consecutively.

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