Most North Carolina residents know domestic assault and violence allegations are serious, but they may not fully understand the depth of thought that goes into the sentencing process. Instead of simply giving out a slap on the wrist or a couple of days in jail, judges follow a stringent set of best practices when deciding the type of sentence to hand down for domestic violence cases. This essentially raises the stakes to sometimes critical levels for those facing domestic assault and violence allegations.
Some of things North Carolina judges consider during the sentencing process include:
-- The defendant's prior criminal history, if present-- Whether a current or previous domestic violence protective order exists-- History of compliance with protective orders and probation, if applicable-- History of compliance with court-ordered treatment programs, if applicable-- Impact statements from the victim-- Details of the alleged domestic assault-- The presence of alcohol or drugs during the alleged incident-- Whether a weapon was involved in the alleged incident-- The victim's injuries, if applicable-- The presence of children during the alleged incident
These are just a few of the many things judges will review when determining the appropriate sentence for the alleged crime. The judge's findings after the review will dictate the severity of the sentence handed down. A few of the possible sentences include:
-- Jail term or other form of punishment-- Probation terms of up to 24 months-- Mandatory enrollment in abuser treatment programs-- Regular compliance hearings-- Mental health treatment-- Restrictions on access to weapons
In these modern times, American courts take domestic assault and violence allegations seriously, so defendants need to approach their criminal defense options equally seriously. In nearly all cases, working with an attorney can help defendants present their side of the story in a clear, unemotional way, which could lead to reduced sentences and an easier time moving past the incident.
Source: The North Carolina Court System, "North Carolina Domestic Violence Best Practices Guide for District Court Judge" Oct. 07, 2014