If you’ve been found guilty of DWI by a judge or jury the next step will be to determine what kind of sentence you receive from the judge. In order to decide what sentence you get the judge or jury is required by law to consider the existence of certain “grossly aggravating factors” before handing down the sentence.
Just what are grossly aggravating factors? Grossly aggravating factors are certain facts that may exist in your case which make your case more serious in the eyes of the law.
Under NC law, if the judge or jury finds that there exist
One grossly aggravating factor in your case (other than #6 below) then you face a maximum possible sentence of 12 months in jail along with a $2,000 fine.
Two grossly aggravating factors in your case OR grossly aggravating factor #6 below applies in your case then you face a maximum possible sentence of 24 months in jail along with a $4,000 fine.
Three or more grossly aggravating factors in your case then you face a maximum possible sentence of 36 months (3 years) in jail along with a $10,000 fine.
Not everything counts, though, as a grossly aggravating factor. There’s actually a list of all the grossly aggravating factors a judge or jury may consider.
According to NC law, that list includes:
(1) If you have one or more DWI convictions within 7 years before the date of your current DWI charge (each prior DWI conviction within 7 years before the date of your current DWI charge counts as a separate grossly aggravating factor),
2) If you have been convicted of one or more DWIs since being charged with your current DWI (each such DWI conviction counts as a separate grossly aggravating factor),
3) If you have one or more DWI convictions in District Court that were appealed to Superior Court but you’ve decided to withdraw the appeal and haven’t been sentenced yet on those DWIs,
4) If your driver’s license was revoked for a DWI conviction at the time you were stopped for your current DWI charge,
5) If your impaired driving at the time of your current DWI caused serious injury to another person,
6) If you had a child under 18, a person with the mental development of a child under 18, or a disabled person in your car at the time of your current DWI charge.
In the event you are convicted of DWI it is up to the prosecutor to prove to the judge or jury at your sentencing that any of these factors apply to your case. These factors are what give the judge the ability to increase your sentence.
In the event that the judge or jury finds that your case has at least 3 “grossly aggravating factors” your sentence may be increased to up to 3 years in jail. To learn more about aggravating factors and mitigating factors see the blog posts on this site titled “What Are The Aggravating Factors For a DWI?” and “What Are The Mitigating Factors For a DWI?”.
If you’ve been charged with DWI and have questions similar to these the best thing you can do is hire a former DWI prosecutor. As a former DWI prosecutor I know the answers to your questions and the inside legal knowledge to help you win your case. I’m available 24 hours a day/365 days a year to take your call. My number is (919) 886-7506.