Charged with a Class C felony in North Dakota. What steps should I take now?

Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “I was recently charged with a Class C Felony in the State of North Dakota. I am wondering what steps I should take now? I don’t want to spend a lot of time in jail or face a life-time of having a tough time getting a job. Can you help me?” 

Overview of felonies in North Dakota

If you have been charged with a felony offense in North Dakota this is a very serious charge. In fact, if convicted, not only could you spend a significant amount of time in prison, but you could suffer other long-term consequences such as loss of employment opportunities, the loss of the right to own a gun, loss of the right to serve in the military or hold public office, and the loss of the right to vote.

With that in mind, you are right to be worried. You need to discuss your case as soon as possible with a criminal defense lawyer who understands North Dakota criminal laws. Below we will provide general information about felonies in North Dakota. 

How does North Dakota classify felonies?

Like other states, North Dakota separates crimes into categories as well as classes. First, North Dakota recognizes both misdemeanors – low level crimes- and felonies- more severe crimes. Next, North Dakota also separates felonies into four separate categories from the most serious (Class AA) to the least serious (Class C).

  • Class AA
  • Class A
  • Class B
  • Class C

What will the penalties be for a felony conviction in North Dakota?

If you are convicted of a felony conviction in North Dakota there is a statutory maximum penalty which can be assessed. It’s important to note, however, that the judge or court may also have the right to assess a penalty which is less than the maximum.

For example, if you are convicted of a Class AA felony you can be sentenced up to life in prison with or without parole. For Class A felonies you can be sentenced up to a maximum penalty of twenty years' imprisonment, a fine of twenty thousand dollars, or both. Class B felonies may result in a maximum penalty of ten years' imprisonment, a fine of twenty thousand dollars, or both. Those convicted of a Class C felony, however, can expect up to five years in prison with fines of $1,000 to $10,000.

Note: Many drug offenses are labeled Class C felonies but the maximum fine is of 50,000.00 dollars instead of 10,000.00 dollars.

What crimes constitute each criminal level?

As mentioned above, the felony class you receive will depend on the crime you have committed. For example, if you commit murder, continuous sexual abuse of a child, or human trafficking of someone under the age of 18, you can expect to be charged with a Class AA felony.

Those who commit perjury, who commit negligent homicide, or lure a child under the age of 15 to engage in sexual conduct can expect to be charged with a Class C felony. 

How long does the government have to charge me with a felony?

Although this does not pertain to your particular question, all states have statute of limitations for charging a suspect with a crime. With the exception of murder, which has not statute of limitations, if you have been arrest for a crime North Dakota state laws require the state to charge you within 3 to 5 years, depending on the crime committed.

North Dakota maintains controversial three strikes laws

You did not mention this as a particular concern, but’s important to understand that North Dakota is one of many states that has passed the three strikes law. Under this law, North Dakota criminals, who are convicted of their fourth consecutive North Dakota felony, may have years or more than a decade of prison time added to their sentence.

While this law is very controversial, it’s proponents argue it has less to do with punishing criminals for their past crimes and more to do with protecting the public from their future potential offenses. Those opposed to the laws, however, say that there are unintended consequences- such as more violent offenders trying to escape police arrest.

Bottom Line: 

If you have been arrested for a Class C felony in North Dakota you need to understand the law and the potential penalties you face if convicted. You also need to talk to a criminal defense lawyer.

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