North Carolina Felonies

Old Rowan County NC Post Office & Federal Courthouse

North Carolina has very strict laws when it comes to felonies. The laws are not only strict, but they can also be a bit confusing. Also, the justice delivery system in North Carolina is a bit different from what is obtainable in other states. For example, North Carolina does not have a statute of limitations on felonies. This means that no matter how much time has passed between when a felony was committed and when the perpetrator was arrested, he or she would still have to face the wrath of the law.

This is markedly different from what is obtainable in other states, where there is a statute of limitations for different felony offenses. For North Carolina, a prosecutor can always bring you to court, no matter how long ago you committed the felony, and you will most likely serve time depending on the severity of the offense. This is vastly different from North Carolina misdemeanors which have a two year statute of limitations for most misdemeanors.

As a result, it is in your best interest to get the services of a North Carolina criminal defense attorney immediately. As your lawyer we will look at the facts of your case and point out factors that can either make your sentence worse or lighter. Depending on whichever we find, we can work the case to ensure that you get the best possible outcome.

North Carolina, like many other states, breaks its felonies into different classifications. However, the state does not sentence felonies the way other states do. There are no typical sentences for felonies in North Carolina. Rather, North Carolina treats each case differently and sentences felonies on a case-by-case basis.

How does North Carolina classify felonies?

North Carolina places offenses in different classes that are used to determine the extent of the punishment a person can be given. They are divided into ten different classes from A to I, with A being the most serious and I being the least serious. Class B is subdivided into classes B1 and B2.

  • Felonies that fall into Class A are first-degree murder, unlawful use of a weapon of mass destruction (if injuries resulted). They carry a prison sentence of death or life without parole.
  • Felonies in the Class B1 category are first-degree rape, first-degree sexual offense and statutory rape. They carry a maximum prison sentence of life without parole
  • In Class B2 are felonies like second-degree murder, conspiracy to commit a Class A or Class B1 felony. They carry a prison sentence of 484 months.
  • Class C felonies include offenses like second-degree rape, second-degree sexual offense, first-degree kidnapping, embezzlement of $100,000 or more, child abuse resulting in bodily injury. They carry a maximum prison sentence of 231 months.
  • Class D felonies include offenses like voluntary manslaughter, first-degree arson, first-degree burglary, trafficking of 10,000 pounds or more worth of drugs. They carry a maximum prison sentence of 204 months
  • Class E felonies include child abuse, patient abuse and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill. They carry a maximum prison time of 88 months.
  • Class F felonies include habitual impaired driving, burning of public or educational buildings, perjury, bribery. They carry a prison sentence of up to 59 months.
  • Class G felonies include common law robbery, drug violations in the case of minors. They carry a maximum sentence of 47 months in prison.

Class H and Class I Felonies

Class H and Class I felonies are considered the least serious of felony offenses. However, that classification should not fool you into thinking they do not carry significant punishment. They still carry punishments that can negatively impact your life and future. Our firm primarily handles H and I felonies.

Class H felonies carry a maximum sentence of thirty-nine months in prison and include the following:

Class I felonies carry a maximum punishment of twenty-four months in prison and include the following:

  • Breaking and/or entering motor vehicles
  • Possession of marijuana
  • Financial transaction card theft
  • Possession of cocaine
  • Forgery of notes, checks and securities
  • Maintaining a dwelling or motor vehicle with the intent to keep or sell a controlled substance
  • Uttering forged paper or instrument
  • Obtaining a controlled substance by fraud

Sentencing in North Carolina felonies

As mentioned earlier, felonies in North Carolina are punished on a case-by-case basis. This is despite the punishments the statutes recommend. Felony punishments are of three types. They are active, intermediate and community punishments.

  • Active punishment: Here, the offender is allowed to spend time in prison for the duration the statute recommends for the offense committed. This could either be in a local jail or state prison.
  • Intermediate punishment: The offender is put on supervised probation in addition to one or more of the following:
    • Split sentence: this includes active jail time followed by supervised probation
    • House arrest with electronic monitoring
    • Intensive daily monitoring
    • Overnight stays in a residential center under supervision
    • Drug treatment courts
  • Community punishment: The judge decides the defendant’s punishment. It can be probation, fines, restitution, community service and/or substance abuse treatment.

How do North Carolina courts determine what punishment to impose?

The punishment imposed is determined by considering the class of the felony committed and the prior conviction level of the defendant. The prior conviction level is determined by a point system. When a defendant has a prior conviction, points are added to his or her record. The points are a function of the class of the committed felony. Class A felonies, for instance, have ten points and Class H and I felonies have two points each. The conviction levels on record are as follows:

  • Level 1: 0-1 points
  • Level 2: 2-5 points
  • Level 3: 6-9 points
  • Level 4: 10-13 points
  • Level 5: 14-17 points
  • Level 6: 18+ points

Asides, the class of felony and prior conviction level, sentences are imposed based on whether there were aggravating or mitigating factors. The most common aggravating factor is committing a felony while on parole. An example of a mitigating factor is that the defendant has been a person of good character or has had a good reputation in the community.

A North Carolina criminal defense attorney can help

There is no statute of limitations on offenses in North Carolina. As a result, there is no escape based on the passage of time. Therefore, it is in your best interest to get the services of a competent North Carolina criminal defense attorney immediately.

At Stowe Law Firm, we believe in being true advocates and counselors for our clients. We have represented over five hundred clients and have garnered a wealth of experience along the way. We bring this considerable experience to bear in your case and ensure you get the best possible outcome.

To schedule a free initial consultation, you can reach us via our contact page or call 704-856-9502.

About Ryan Stowe

Ryan Stowe's Profile Image
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…

Read More About Ryan

Request a Free Consultation

Contact Us