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NC DWI Sentencing Guidelines – What You Should Know

Have you been arrested for a DWI in North Carolina? If so, the experience can be frightening and stressful, but while you are waiting for the next steps in the North Carolina criminal process, it can be helpful to look at the NC DWI sentencing guidelines.

NC DWI Sentencing Guidelines | Dewey Brinkley DWI Attorney in Raleigh

There is a wide range of potential punishments that you can face if you are convicted of a DWI. At the low end, you may be looking at fines and community service. At the other end, you could be looking at serious time in jail or prison. No matter the severity of your DWI offense, you absolutely need an experienced and skilled Raleigh DWI lawyer like Dewey Brinkley. We’ve helped many individuals just like yourself with their DWI charges, achieving not guilty results, dropped charges, and reduced or alternative charges.

For a free, no-obligation consultation with our Raleigh DWI law firm, call us today at (919) 832-0307.

DWI Sentencing Factors

The North Carolina General Statutes (N.C.G.S.) § 20-179 provide the basic outline for DWI penalties and sentencing. Following a conviction of a DWI, the judge will schedule a sentencing hearing to determine the appropriate sentencing level. Often, the judge will consider several mitigating or aggravating factors in his/her decision.

Grossly Aggravating Factors

Grossly aggravating factors are the most severe, and if you have grossly aggravating factors in your case, then you may be looking at the harshest penalties in North Carolina courts. The following factors are considered grossly aggravating:

  • Prior conviction of an impaired driving offense within 7 years of the current one
    • Each prior conviction can be considered an aggravating factor
  • The driver was driving on a license that was revoked for impaired driving
  • The driver caused serious bodily injury
  • The driver had a minor in the vehicle (under 18 years old) or a person with a mental or physical disability

Aggravating Factors

Aggravating factors are less serious than the “grossly aggravating” factors, but nonetheless, aggravating factors in your case can dramatically increase the severity of the penalties you may be facing. Some aggravating factors can include:

  • Gross impairment with a BAC of 0.15 of higher
  • Especially reckless or dangerous driving
  • Negligent driving that led to a reportable accident
  • Driving with a revoked license
  • Two or more convictions of non-DWI-related offenses within 5 years
  • A conviction for speeding while fleeing or eluding a police officer
  • A conviction for speeding at least 30 mph over the speed limit
  • Passing a stopped school bus
  • Any other factor that aggravates the seriousness of the offense

Mitigating Factors

Unlike aggravating factors, having mitigating factors in your case can, in the majority of cases, serve as a benefit that reduces the potential DWI sentence you may be facing. Some mitigating factors can include:

  • Slight impairment of the driver’s faculties and a BAC that didn’t exceed 0.09
  • The driver’s driving behavior was safe and lawful (except for the impairment of faculties)
  • The driver had a safe driving record
  • Impairment was caused by a legally prescribed drug for an existing medical condition, and the drug was taken within its prescribed dosage
  • After the conviction, the driver voluntarily submitted to a mental health facility and recommended treatments

Different Sentencing Levels for DWIs

Through these factors, as well as a consideration of the unique circumstances related to the DWI stop and arrest, the courts may assign a certain level signifying the severity of your punishment.

All of the DWI sentences, aside from a felonious Habitual DWI offense, fall within five sentencing levels. Level One and Two are generally imposed if you have prior convictions within seven years or other grossly aggravating factors; Level 5, on the other side of the spectrum, often involves a first offense and mitigating factors. The five levels and their punishments are listed below:

  • Level Five: This is the lightest sentencing level often imposed when the mitigating factors outweigh the aggravating factors.
    • Fine of up to $200; minimum of 24 hours and maximum of 120 days in jail
  • Level Four: Generally, no aggravating or mitigating factors were present or both were equally counterbalanced.
    • Fine of up to $200; minimum of 48 hours and maximum of 120 days in jail
  • Level Three: The aggravating factors outweighed the mitigating factors, but there were no grossly aggravating factors present.
    • Fine of up to $1,000; minimum of 72 hours and maximum of 6 months in jail
  • Level Two: There were no minors under 18 in the vehicle and only one grossly aggravating factor was present.
    • Fine of up to $2,000; minimum of 7 days and maximum of 12 months in jail
  • Level One: The driver was accompanied by a minor under 18 or there were two grossly aggravating factors involved.
    • Fine of up to $4,000; minimum of 30 days and maximum of 24 months in jail
  • Aggravated Level One: There were three or more grossly aggravating factors present.
    • Fine of up to $10,000; minimum of 12 months and maximum of 36 months in jail, with no possibility of parole

Arrested for a DWI? Call Dewey Brinkley in Raleigh NC Today!

At the Law Office of Dewey P. Brinkley in Raleigh, NC, we’ve helped hundreds of individuals caught in a similar situation as yourself or your loved one. As such, with years of devotion to criminal defense and DWI defense law and legal representation, we will give you comprehensive and compassionate representation with the goal of achieving a not-guilty result, dropped charges, or alternative/reduced sentencing.

To speak with Raleigh NC DWI attorney Dewey Brinkley, call our downtown Raleigh criminal defense law firm today at (919) 832-0307.

When Free Speech Becomes Criminal – Protests vs. Riots

The cornerstones of freedom and liberty in America has foundations in the First Amendment, and in both the North Carolina Constitution and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, you are giving the right to free expression and speech. However, like the yelling “fire” in a crowded theater example, or participating in violent actions during a riot, there are certain limitations to free speech that could turn into criminal matters.

Raleigh Criminal Attorney Dewey Brinkley | Protests vs. Riots

Free speech laws are complex, and with a continuously changing legal landscape regarding free speech in North Carolina, your rightful protests could turn into a criminal matter. If you were arrested in Raleigh or Wake County for protesting, make sure to call the leading criminal defense attorney in the Raleigh and Triangle Area: Dewey P. Brinkley.

Don’t hesitate, and the moment you’re arrested or facing charges, call the Law Office of Dewey P. Brinkley in Raleigh today at (919) 832-0307.

Elements of Free Speech to Remember

There are three things that you need to remember when it comes to free speech laws and rights in North Carolina:

  1. It’s not about what you say, it’s how you say it. No matter your beliefs, you have the right to express your opinions. However, it’s how you use that right that matters in courts. For instance, if you organize a protest that causes serious disruption, then the police may be able to intervene and you may be held criminally liable.
  2. Free speech is for everyone. It doesn’t matter who you are, whether you’re old or young, Christian or Muslim, a U.S. citizen or not, you right to free speech is protected.
  3. Always consider the when, where, and how when using your right to free speech. For instance, if you organize a protest that turns violent or causes disruption, your event could be canceled. Make sure you know the municipalities regulations and observe the ones related to time, place, and the manner in which you exercise your rights.

Protest vs. Riot?

The difference between a protest and a riot is fairly simple. A protest is, in the majority of instances, legal and protected while a riot that involves violence and civil disorder can be considered criminal behavior and not protected by free speech laws.

According to the Oxford dictionary, a protest is “a statement or action expressing disapproval of or objection to something.” As such, when individuals say they’re organizing a protest, it’s usually a peaceful, public demonstration expressing strong objection. When violent acts occur during a protest, however, it can become a riot. According to the Oxford dictionary, a riot is “a violent disturbance of the peace by a crowd.”

Penalties for Rioting in North Carolina

Furthermore, rioting is a crime defined in the North Carolina penal code, under § 14-288.2. Riot; inciting to riot; punishments. According to this law, “A riot is a public disturbance involving an assemblage of three or more persons which by disorderly and violent conduct, or the imminent threat of disorderly and violent conduct, results in injury or damage to persons or property or creates a clear and present danger of injury or damage to persons or property.”

The criminal penalty for rioting is a Class 1 Misdemeanor; however, you could be looking at a Class H Felony if one of the following apply:

  • During the course of the riot, there is serious bodily injury or property damage that exceeds $1,500
  • The rioter was in possession of a dangerous weapon or a substance

Also, willfully inciting or urging others to riot is a Class 1 Misdemeanor (a Class F Felony if the resulting riot caused serious bodily harm or excessive property damage), and it is here where the line between protest and riot can get blurred.

Changing Legal Landscapes for Protesting in North Carolina

Although the definitions sound pretty straightforward, peaceful protestors are often the target of police intervention and arrest. Furthermore, the legal landscape regarding free speech and protests is always changing. In February of 2017, lawmakers in North Carolina introduced a bill that could open up felony charges to any criminal offense that leads to at least $1,000 in economic harm to any business, if the offender intended to intimidate the government or public.

This bill was rejected in the NC House in April, but this bill proposal and its failure does represent how laws regarding protests and riots can change.


Arrested for Exercising Your Right to Free Speech? Call Raleigh Attorney Brinkley Today

If you were arrested during a peaceful protest, or if a protest got out of hand and turned into a riot, then make sure to call Raleigh criminal attorney Dewey Brinkley today. For a free consultation with our Raleigh criminal law firm, call us today at (919) 832-0307.

What is the Difference Between Assault and Aggravated Assault?

Criminal law is an extremely nuanced field where specific details can have a major impact. In criminal courts in North Carolina, the guilt or innocence of the alleged offender can depend on a single detail; it is the same with punishments regarding the severity of a crime. For instance, aggravated assault can result in years behind bars, while an assault charge can result in lesser penalties.

Assault & Aggravated Assault | Raleigh Defense Attorney Dewey Brinkley

At the Law Office of Dewey P. Brinkley, we boast full and in-depth knowledge of North Carolina laws, especially regarding the differences between severe crimes, such as aggravated assault, and less severe crimes, such as assault. In this post, we’ll explain the difference between these two offenses, and how each ruling may affect your future.

In the meantime, if you or a loved one was charged with assault or aggravated assault, it’s critical to call the leading Raleigh criminal defense attorney in the Wake County area. Call attorney Dewey Brinkley today for a free consultation.

Misdemeanor Assault and Battery Crimes

In order to best understand the differences in law and penalties for assault and battery, it can be helpful to look at the various levels of assault in North Carolina. The lowest level of assault is misdemeanor assault, and there are three levels of misdemeanor assault and battery, including:

  • Assault that involves physically injuring someone else
  • Attempting to commit assault, involving a show of force that makes assault imminent
  • Affray, or a fight between two people in a public area, that frightens others

The North Carolina laws detailing misdemeanor assault include N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. §§ 14-32 and 14-33.

It is important to note that simple assault and affray result in minor physical injuries. In this situation, the alleged offender may be looking at a Class 2 misdemeanor. With no prior convictions, a Class 2 misdemeanor may result in probation and a sentence of 1 to 30 days in jail (with prior convictions, the jail time may be increased to 60 days).

Serious Assault, Assault and Battery, and Affray

If the alleged assault included more serious injuries, certain victims, or specific weapons, the penalties can be increased to Class A1 or Class 1 misdemeanors. For instance:

  • Serious injury – Although N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 14-33 doesn’t define serious injury, many North Carolina courts will consider a serious injury as one that could require medical attention (the victim doesn’t necessarily need to get medical attention). An assault that inflicts serious injury is a Class A1 misdemeanor.
  • Using a deadly weapon – A deadly weapon is one that could kill an individual, including guns, knives, and blunt objects, as well as any other object used in a deadly manner. Using a deadly weapon to commit assault is a Class A1 misdemeanor.

A Class A1 misdemeanor is punishable by 1 to 60 days of probation, supervised probation, or jail time. A Class 1 misdemeanor is punishable by 1 to 45 days of probation or jail time.

Aggravated Assault

Aggravated assault is the more severe assault charge in North Carolina, and it is a Class E or Class C felony, depending on the circumstances of the alleged charge. In general, for an assault offense to be a felony, it either needs to involve very serious injuries or use of a deadly weapon.

Assault with a deadly weapon, when coupled with serious injury or deadly intent, is a Class E felony. A Class E felony may be punishable by 15 to 31 months in prison.

Assault with a deadly weapon is a Class C felony when both intent to kill and serious injury are present. If convicted of a Class C felony, the offender could be punished by a prison term between 44 and 98 months.

Contact Raleigh Defense Attorney Dewey Brinkley

Whether convicted of misdemeanor assault or felony assault, it’s critical to contact a prominent and skilled criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. At the Law Office of Dewey P. Brinkley, we’ve successfully defended many individuals charged with assault in North Carolina, and we have the legal resources and know-how to help you too.

To speak with attorney Brinkley regarding the details of your case, call our Raleigh law firm at (919) 832-0307. Free consultations are available.