Punishment for criminal offenses mainly depends on two factors in North Carolina: (1) the classification of the crime and (2) the defendant's prior record level. The prior record level is determined by the number of prior convictions.
Misdemeanors generally fall into one of four categories:
A class A1 is the most serious type of misdemeanor in North Carolina. Assault Inflicting Serious Injury, Stalking and Sexual Battery are examples. Even for a first offender a class A1 misdemeanor can be punishable by jail time.
Class 1 misdemeanors are below class A1 in terms of the punishment level. Examples of Class 1misdemeanors include:
Larceny ($1,000 of less)
Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
Possession of Marijuana (more than ½ ounce)
Possession of Stolen Goods
Driving while License Revoked (DWLR).
Examples of Class 2 misdemeanors include:
Carrying a Concealed Weapon
1st Degree Trespassing
Class 3 misdemeanors are the least serious type of misdemeanor in North Carolina.
Examples of class 3 misdemeanors include:
Possession of marijuana (less than ½ ounce)
Second Degree Trespass
Intoxicated and Disruptive
Below is the statutory grid for misdemeanor sentencing in North Carolina.
“C” means community punishment (aka probation)
“I” means intermediate punishment (i.e. house arrest or intensive probation).
“A” means active jail time.
CLASS I - No Priors II - One to Four Priors III - Five Plus Priors
A1 1-60 Days 1-75 Days 1-150 Days
C/I/A C/I/A C/I/A
1 1-45 Days 1-45 Days 1-120 Days
C C/I/A C/I/A
2 1-30 Days 1-45 Days 1-60 Days
C C/I C/I/A
3 1-10 Days 1-15 Days 1-20 Days
C C/I C/I/A
If you have been charged with a misdemeanor your case will be heard in District Court. You have a range of options for your case.
1. You can plead “Not Guilty” and request a trial. The state will be required to prove their entire case beyond a reasonable doubt.
2. You can negotiate a plea agreement with the State and plead guilty to a lesser offense.
3. You can plead guilty
4. You can work with your attorney to have your case dismissed.
There are many options available in you are a first offender in North Carolina where you can ultimately have your case dismissed as part of a conditional discharge program under § 90-96. In exchange for staying out of trouble for a short period of time (usually six months) and doing things like community service and/or substance abuse treatment the District Attorney will dismiss your case after you’ve completed the goals of the program.
District Court trials take place before a judge (not a jury) who will hear evidence and determine whether the State has proved your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If the judge finds you “not guilty” the case ends and you go free. If the judge finds you guilty he/she will impose a sentence ranging from a fine to probation to jail time. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor in District Court you are allowed to appeal your conviction to Superior Court. In Superior Court you are entitled to a brand new trial before a jury of twelve randomly selected members of the public.
In District Court you need a skilled attorney who will protect your rights. If the state doesn’t have enough evidence to prove your case you may be entitled to a reduction of your charge or a dismissal of the case. If the police violated your Fourth Amendment rights you may also be able to suppress the evidence and thereby have your case dismissed. Contact the Law Offices of Wiley Nickel to discuss your case and receive a free initial consultation at 919-585-1486 or firstname.lastname@example.org.