In the state of North Carolina, there is a big difference between a misdemeanor and a felony. A misdemeanor is a less serious crime than a felony but still requires jail time, a smaller fine, or sometimes even temporary restrictions or punishment. A felony is a very serious crime that typically has long jail or prison times, costly fines, and a loss of a lot of freedom.
What is a Misdemeanor?
A misdemeanor is a less serious offense that carries potential jail time of up to a year. While jail time is still possible, typically misdemeanors are punished with fines and possible community service. In North Carolina, there are 4 different classes for the conviction of a misdemeanor that decides the amount of time or punishment an individual will do.
Class A1: This requires 1 to 150 days of jail time, community punishment, and/or a fine. This is the most serious class of misdemeanors. Fine is decided by the judge as appropriate. Includes: assault with a deadly weapon, child abuse, violation of restraining order, and assault causing serious injury.
Class 1: This requires 1 to 120 days of active, intermediate, or community punishment. Fine is decided by the judge as appropriate. Includes: larceny, prostitution, breaking and entering, and drug paraphernalia.
Class 2: This requires 1 to 60 days of active, intermediate, or community punishment. Maximum fine of up to $1,000. Includes: carrying a gun without a permit, simple assault, reckless driving, and leaving the scene of an accident.
Class 3: This requires 1 to 20 days of active, intermediate, or community punishment. This is the least serious class of misdemeanors. Maximum fine of up to $200. Includes: shoplifting, possession of marijuana (less than 0.02oz), speeding, and second-degree trespassing.
For more information on offenses and what misdemeanor class they are considered under NC Courts, click here.
Types of Punishments
Active Punishments: Full jail sentences.
Intermediate Punishments: House arrest, close monitoring, drug treatment, and shorter jail time.
Community Punishments: Fines, community service, probation.
Once an individual is convicted of a misdemeanor, they are placed into one of three levels based on their previous convictions. This level is used in court by a judge to help decide an individual’s sentence.
Level I: No prior convictions
Level II: One to four prior convictions
Level III: Five or more prior convictions
What is a Felony?
A felony is a very serious type of crime. In North Carolina, felonies are divided up into 10 different classes. All felony convictions have the great possibility of jail or prison time. Similar to a misdemeanor, a judge will take previous convictions into account when deciding a sentence.
Class A: Death or life without parole. Includes: first-degree murder, use of a weapon with mass destruction
Class B1: 144 Months or death or life without parole. Includes: first-degree rape, first-degree sexual offense
Class B2: 94 to 393 months of active, intermediate, or community punishment. Includes: second-degree murder
Class C: 44 to 182 months of active, intermediate, or community punishment. Includes: second-degree forcible rape, first-degree kidnapping, embezzlement ($100,000 or more)
Class D: 38 to 160 months of active, intermediate, or community punishment. Includes: voluntary manslaughter, first-degree arson, armed robbery, death by vehicle
Class E: 15 to 63 months of active, intermediate, or community punishment. Includes: second-degree kidnapping, discharging a weapon into occupied property, assault with a firearm on law enforcement
Class F: 10 to 41 months of active, intermediate, or community punishment. Includes: involuntary manslaughter, assault inflicting serious injury, felonious restraint
Class G: 8 to 31 months of active, intermediate, or community punishment. Includes: identity theft, second-degree burglary, second-degree arson, common law robbery
Class H: 4 to 25 months of active, intermediate, or community punishment. Includes: assault by strangulation, breaking and entering with felonious intent, hit and run (with injury), embezzlement (less than $100,000)
Class I: 3 to 12 months of active, intermediate, or community punishment. Includes: breaking or entering of motor vehicles, forging of notes and checks, financial card theft, possession of cocaine
For more information on more offenses and what felony classification a crime is considered under NC Courts, click here.
In order for a judge to decide a sentence, an individual previous conviction history is taken into account and turned “points” to access their case.
Class A: 10 points
Class B1: 9 points
Class B2, C, and D: 6 points
Class E, F, and G: 4 points
Class H and I: 2 points
Any misdemeanor: 1 point
After looking at an individual’s previous history, the points can be added and then be converted over to a certain level:
Level I: 0 to 1 points
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
An individual will be sentenced using the level and point system above. A felony punishment chart along with offenses can be found here.
In the state of North Carolina, misdemeanor and felony laws come along with very strict penalties. In order to avoid or lessen a conviction, it is important to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney on your case. Please do not hesitate to reach out to Schehr Law PLLC, so we are able to build a strong defense for your case.