Misdemeanors in North Carolina

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:
Class A1
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
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
Communicating Threats
Driving while License Revoked (DWLR).
Class 2
Examples of Class 2 misdemeanors include:
Carrying a Concealed Weapon
Simple Assault
Reckless Driving
1st Degree Trespassing
Class 3
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

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Wiley Nickel

Wiley Nickel lives and works in Cary, North Carolina. In 1998, he graduated from Tulane University with a major in Political Science and a minor in History. After college Wiley went to work for Al Gore and travelled with the Vice President as part of his national advance staff. Following the Gore campaign he earned his law degree from the Pepperdine University School of Law in 2005. While in law school Wiley worked as a law clerk in the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office where he gained valuable criminal trial experience before taking and passing the California bar exam. His first job out of law school was for the Merced County District Attorney’s Office where he worked as a Deputy District Attorney with a focus on prosecuting DWI offenders. Wiley later joined the Law Offices of Joseph Uremovic where he focused on civil litigation and family law. When the opportunity came to join the Obama campaign in 2008 Wiley jumped at the chance. He spent three years travelling with President Obama as a member of his national advance team. In 2011 Wiley left his work for the White House to return to the practice of law. Wiley devotes the majority of his practice to the areas of criminal law, family law, traffic tickets and DMV issues. The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel was started with the goal of providing the best representation possible for all of his clients. Experienced, Compassionate, Aggressive Criminal Defense While defense attorney Wiley Nickel works as the primary attorney for all of his cases, he does have an associate attorney, a team of investigators, forensic consultants, and support staff to call on to help achieve the best possible result in every case. He limits his case load so that he can focus on providing the best possible legal defense to all of his clients. Every case is a top priority and the goal is to have your case dismissed with a focus on being able to expunge your charges at the end of the process. When he is not working, Wiley is an avid family man, distance runner and golfer. He loves North Carolina college sports and is hoping this is the year for Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. Wiley is licensed to practice law in North Carolina and California.