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What Sex Crimes are Considered Felony Charges in North Carolina?

If you have been arrested for any type of sex crime in North Carolina, your future and freedom are in jeopardy. Some sex crime charges are considered felonies and carry lengthy prison sentences for those convicted. You could even be facing the possibility of a life sentence in prison without parole.

You may have a permanent criminal record that will negatively affect your ability to obtain housing, a job, a loan, and much more due to the harsh penalties you will face. You will benefit from working with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help build a strong defense that could result in the charges being dismissed or reduced to a less severe offense with lighter penalties.

What is Considered a First-Degree or Second-Degree Sexual Offense?

North Carolina defines a sexual offense crime as an offense in which a person subjects a victim to unwanted and offensive sexual acts. Sexual acts include cunnilingus, fellatio, analingus, and anal intercourse. The difference between a sexual offense charge and a rape charge is that rape involves vaginal penetration.

Sexual assault charges do not include vaginal intercourse. However, a charge for a sexual offense crime can consist of penetration by an object into a person's genitals. If the sexual act is cunnilingus, fellatio, or analingus, penetration is not required to convict the defendant. However, it is required if the sexual act is anal intercourse or penetration by any object.

There are two levels of sexual offense classifications — first-degree sexual offense and second-degree sexual offense. A first-degree sexual offense occurs when a person engages in a sexual act with the following:

  • A child under 13 years old and the accused is 14 years old or older and at least four years older than the victim, or
  • A person by force and against his or her will with the use of a dangerous weapon that inflicts serious personal injury or is committed with the help of at least one other person

In North Carolina, a first-degree sexual offense is considered a Class B1 felony, the second most serious felony charge. Those convicted of a Class B1 felony can be sentenced to up to 144 months to life in prison without parole. The exact sentence depends on the person's proper criminal record, along with other factors. Second-degree sexual offenses occur when an individual performs a sexual act by force against the victim's will or with someone mentally incapacitated, physically helpless, or mentally disabled. A second-degree sexual offense is considered a Class C felony. The penalty can include a prison sentence of 44 to 182 months.

Felony Rape Charges in North Carolina

There are two separate categories of rape under North Carolina law. First-degree rape is considered the most severe type of rape and occurs when someone forces or acts against the victim's will to engage in vaginal intercourse. The rape must include using or displaying a deadly or dangerous weapon, being committed with the assistance of one or more persons, or inflicting serious bodily harm.

Additionally, statutory rape is considered first-degree rape and occurs when the victim is younger than 13 years old and the accused is at least 12 years old and at least four years older than the victim. First-degree rape carries a minimum sentence of 25 years in prison. If the victim was under 12 years old or had a prior conviction, the defendant could face a life sentence in prison with no chance of parole.

Second-degree rape occurs when a person engages in vaginal intercourse with the victim by using force against the victim's will. Second-degree rape can also occur when a person engages in vaginal intercourse with a victim who is mentally disabled, physically helpless, or mentally incapacitated. Under North Carolina law, second-degree rape is considered a Class C felony and carries a prison sentence of between 50 and 73 months for a first-time offense. For subsequent offenses, defendants can face a prison sentence of up to 146 months.

Have You Been Charged with a Sex Crime in North Carolina? We Can Help

If you were convicted of a sex crime in North Carolina, you could face years or even decades in prison. You will also be placed on a sex offender list, making it difficult to obtain housing and employment. With your future on the line, you must discuss your case with an attorney as soon as possible. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC, to schedule a free case evaluation and learn how we can fight for you.