Most cases end in a plea of some sort instead of a trial. Pleas are normally about pleading guilty to certain charges in exchange for the State dismissing other charges or the plea could involve negotiating a certain sentence to be imposed. Whether sentences are imposed concurrently or consecutively is a major issue in many cases. Concurrently means that the sentences will run together and consecutively means that the sentences will not run together, but instead they will run one after the other (like a train). Pleading guilty to certain crimes can have future consequences other than just active time.
Presently, the State of North Carolina uses “structured sentencing” that places crimes inside categories depending on the seriousness of the crimes. The sentencing judge is required to give a sentence that corresponds to seriousness of the crime and the Defendant’s prior record. In other words, some of the Judge’s discretion has been removed because of structured sentencing. It is always a good idea to have a plea conference with the assistant district attorney handling the case. If the assistant district attorney takes no position on sentencing, then it may be necessary to have a plea conference with the sentencing judge.