Misdemeanor Crimes In North Carolina

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A crime of any type will probably get you some form of penalty ranging from fines to a jail sentence. In North Carolina, a crime can either be classified as a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the surrounding factors like the type and gravity of the offense. Both types of crimes have their own punishments under the North Carolina law and supervision of the courts. Never go to court for a misdemeanor in North Carolina without a criminal defense attorney.

Misdemeanors vs. Felonies

A misdemeanor is considered a lesser crime as compared to a felony. The penalties for misdemeanors can be fines, probation or a short jail sentence, usually less than a year. Information regarding your crime and consequent penalty are available for public use including employers, landlords and even future sentencing. This may have negative impacts on your future. Felonies are much more serious offenses. Felony sentencing can be probation, serious time in prison, life in prison, and even the death penalty in some cases.

Classes of Misdemeanors in North Carolina

Misdemeanors are in four categories in North Carolina – A1, 1, 2, and 3. The severity and circumstances of the crime play a major role in determining the class of the misdemeanor. An experienced North Carolina attorney will defend and advise you of your rights.

In North Carolina, there are three ways punishment can be served. When convicted for misdemeanor in North Carolina, the individual may be sentenced to:

  • Active punishment, which is a jail sentence, mostly in a local confinement facility, such as the Rowan County Detention Center, not necessarily a state prison, that is generally for felonies.
  • Intermediate punishment is mostly probation given by the judge when there is a need to see and monitor the convicted person. The probation may be in the form of electronic monitoring, house arrest, a short jail sentence in a local confinement facility, or drug treatment court.
  • Community punishment is the mildest form of punishment and does not involve a jail sentence, with or without supervised probation. Community service or participation in skills acquisition programs are both types of community punishment.
    Finally, there is also the option of a fine which is determined by the judge and is considered community punishment.

Class A1 Misdemeanors

The class A1 is for more severe misdemeanor crimes. They carry a maximum penalty of 150 days of active, intermediate or community punishment. Most A1 misdemeanors involve assault. The fine is left to the discretion of the court; there is no specific maximum fine. Common misdemeanor offenses under this class include:

Class 1 Misdemeanors

The maximum penalty for a Class 1 misdemeanor is 120 days of active, intermediate or community punishment. The fine is also left to the discretion of the court. Class 1 misdemeanor offenses include:

Class 2 Misdemeanors

Punishment for a Class 2 misdemeanor is usually 1-60 days of active, intermediate or community punishment. The maximum fine is $1,000. Here are some of the common offenses classified under Class 2 misdemeanor:

Class 3 Misdemeanor

Class 3 is for the least severe misdemeanors in North Carolina. Punishment can include 1-20 days of active, intermediate or community punishment and this may include a $200 fine. Some instances of Class 3 offenses are:

Determining Penalties for Misdemeanors in North Carolina

There are many factors that determine the penalty for a misdemeanor in North Carolina. An offense by itself is not enough to determine the punishment for an offense. Aside from taking the four classes of misdemeanor into account, the court considers the accused's previous conviction level before passing judgment. The conviction level ranges from Level I to Level III.

North Carolina Prior Record Levels

Level Convictions

Level I

No prior convictions

Level II

1-4 prior convictions

Level III

5 or more prior convictions

If you need help, a North Carolina criminal defense attorney can assist you with determining your prior record level. The class of the offense and the level of prior conviction work hand in hand in ascertaining the suitable penalty. The higher the severity of the crime, and the more the previous convictions a person has, will affect the sentencing. Therefore, for more serious crimes like assault on a female or child, or assault with a deadly weapon, previous convictions will have a higher impact on the penalty.

A North Carolina criminal defense attorney can assist you with determining your prior record level.

For instance, if you are convicted for an assault with a deadly weapon and have no prior convictions, you may be sentenced to 60 days in jail with fines. But with 5 or more previous convictions, you may face up to 150 days in jail. Previous convictions will also increase the amount of fine.

Finally, in any of these cases, North Carolina reserves the right to determine the punishments to the judges based on any of the above factors.

What Should I Do If I’ve Been Charged With a Misdemeanor in North Carolina?

When faced with a misdemeanor in North Carolina, you need the services of an experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorney. Misdemeanor crimes should not be taken lightly. A criminal defense attorney can help you achieve a lesser sentence since the judge’s decision is mostly discretionary. Additionally, an attorney can assist you in taking the right course of action. If you are facing criminal charges for a North Carolina misdemeanor contact our office for a free attorney consultation.

About Ryan Stowe

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Ryan Stowe is the principal attorney at Stowe Law Firm, PLLC. Mr. Stowe is proud to be practicing in his hometown of Salisbury, NC, and is a first generation Rowan County attorney. Mr. Stowe takes pride in being a criminal defense attorney. He focuse…

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