A lot of states take a dim view of repeat criminal offenders. In North Carolina, that view is reflected through a “habitual felon” charge.
What makes a person a habitual felon? A person who has had three prior convictions (or plea bargains) involving felonies as an adult, regardless of where the crimes were committed is considered “habitual.”
What happens if you are convicted of being a habitual felon? You can generally expect to get a much harsher sentence (including a lengthy prison term) due to your status as a habitual felon. Whether you plead guilty to a felony or are convicted of one at trial, you will be sentenced at a felony class level that is up to four classes higher than the felony with which you are currently charged.
While this is not as severe as the “three-strikes” law enacted in other states that could put someone in jail for life for a minor crime after two previous offenses, the habitual felon law can result in some lengthy prison sentences. That makes it smart, if you do have a criminal record, to understand your status under this state’s laws so that you can act to mitigate your risks.
If you are charged with a new crime and are labeled a habitual felon, you immediately need to recognize that the stakes are suddenly a lot higher. You definitely won’t be able to rely on the prosecution to give you any kind of leniency. You need to have an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your rights and present your case.