If you stand accused of a crime, you likely have many concerns on your mind. Among those concerns may be what the penalties for a conviction will look like and how they will affect your future. In particular, you may wonder whether you will end up spending time behind bars in North Carolina.

Worrying about incarceration is common after facing criminal charges. After all, no one wants his or her freedom or livelihood taken away. However, some crimes could come with extended time behind bars if a court issues a conviction. Still, you may wonder whether you could go to jail or prison.

What is the difference?

It is common for people to use the terms “jail” and “prison” to mean the same thing. Of course, that interchangeable usage is not entirely correct. Often, going to jail is serious but less serious than going to prison. Usually, jails are under the operation of local law enforcement, and you could remain in jail while awaiting your trial or until the judge completes sentencing. Not everyone suspected of a crime must remain in jail until that time, as release on bail or bond is a common option.

Jails usually do not have varying levels of security, either. When it comes to prisons, minimum-, medium- and maximum-security levels exist. Additionally, state and federal governments typically operate prisons. If a person faces a conviction that requires extended time in confinement, going to prison rather than jail is likely what will take place. You may think that going to jail is the more favorable option, but you may want to keep in mind that jail conditions are commonly worse than those of prisons.

How can you avoid confinement?

Many details relate to the crime of which authorities suspect you could play a role in, whether you remain in jail after an arrest or receive a bail or bond amount. Of course, you likely want to work toward avoiding a conviction for the charges you face in efforts to avoid jail or prison, so going over your criminal defense options may be in your best interests.

Gaining information on the exact charges you face, what you can do to combat the allegations and understanding the possible consequences may help you make informed decisions. You may also want to keep in mind that you have the right to an attorney who could help you throughout your case.