Crimes in North Carolina have two general categories: felonies and misdemeanors. They are divided further into sub-categories based on the seriousness of the crime.
Each division has its own sentencing guidelines, which are ordered at the judge’s discretion. Some crimes may be given the state’s minimum sentencing, while others may be given at the maximum sentencing. The judge can add to or subtract from the specified sentence as well as specify what type of sentence the defendant will serve.
From simple affray to possession of very small amounts of marijuana, a misdemeanor is a “minor” crime that frequently requires a court appearance in front of a jury. It may or may not include jail time. Punishments are either active, intermediate, or community, and are up to the judge to decide.
These misdemeanor categories are:
- Class 3, the least serious of offenses, such as shoplifting. This can include a sentence of 1 to 20 days of active, intermediate, or community punishment
- Class 2, the next serious offense, such as carrying a firearm without a permit. This can include a sentence of 1 to 60 days of active, intermediate, or community punishment
- Class 1, such as prostitution. This can include a sentence of 1 to 120 days of active, intermediate, or community punishment
- Class A1, the highest level of misdemeanor, such as assault that inflicts serious injury. This can include a sentence of 1 to 150 days of active, intermediate, or community punishment
It’s important to note that although a misdemeanor is a “minor crime,” a conviction, even without jail time, can leave you with a criminal record and all that goes with it.
Prior Misdemeanor Convictions
These groupings are only for first offenses. The state also classifies conviction levels as follows:
- Level I: no prior convictions
- Level II: one to four prior convictions
- Level III: five or more prior convictions
The court takes these levels into consideration when determining the sentence.
These are more serious crimes and are given much harsher penalties and sentences. From the highest to lowest, these are North Carolina’s classifications for felonies:
- Class A—death penalty or life with or without parole (for the most serious, such as murder)
- Class B1—144 months to life without parole
- Class B2—94 to 393 months
- Class C—44 to 182 months
- Class D—38 to 160 months
- Class E—15 to 63 months
- Class F—10 to 41 months
- Class G—8 to 31 months
- Class H—4 to 25 months
- Class I—3 to 12 months
These classifications are only for an individual’s first offense.
Prior Felony Convictions
Similar to prior misdemeanor convictions, North Carolina takes prior convictions into consideration.
North Carolina’s state statute assigns points to each prior conviction:
- Class A felony conviction: 10 points per conviction
- Class BI felony conviction: 9 points per conviction
- Class B2, C, or D felony conviction: 6 points per conviction
- Class E, F, or G felony conviction: 4 points per conviction
- Class H or I felony conviction: 2 points per conviction
- Previous misdemeanor conviction: 1 point per conviction
Points are added and a level is assigned based on the total number of points:
- Level I—0 to 1 point
- Level II—2 to 5 points
- Level III—6 to 9 points
- Level IV—10 to 13 points
- Level V—14 to 17 points
- Level VI—18 or more points
The court then uses this number to determine the dispositional range for sentencing, as well as any aggravating or mitigating factors.
In addition to prison time, a judge can impose a fine, depending on the crime and the severity. For instance, someone who is sentenced only to community service can be also subject to paying a fine (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-1340.23 (2019))
Your Criminal Defense Counsel In Raleigh
Even as a misdemeanor, any type of conviction can have long-ranging consequences that impact your life, including a criminal record. Don’t ignore any criminal charges, no matter how minor. They can cost you considerably later on, and impact your life for years to come.
If you’ve been arrested and are facing any kind of criminal charges, call the law offices of Dewey P. Brinkley today for a free initial consultation to discuss your case at (919) 832-0307. You can also email us by using our online contact form.