MISDEMEANORS IN NORTH CAROLINA
You need a skilled, experienced and aggressive attorney to keep you out of jail.
WHAT CRIMES ARE CLASSIFIED AS MISDEMEANORS
Misdemeanor charges in North Carolina need to be taken seriously. If not defended against, they can result in a permanent criminal record. Criminal records can affect your background check, employment, pay, housing and reputation.
Misdemeanors fall into 3 levels, or classes, of seriousness. A more detailed breakdown of each class is listed below.
Class A1: Class A1 misdemeanors are the most serious misdemeanor crimes that you can be charged with. Examples in this classification include assault on a female, assault with a deadly weapon, child abuse, and sexual battery. Penalties are up to 150 days in jail depending on your prior criminal history.
Class 1: A Class 1 misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of 120 days in jail (if you have 5 or more prior convictions). Class 1 misdemeanors include possession of drug paraphernalia that is unrelated to marijuana, larceny, driving with license revoked (“DWLR”) if your license was revoked for DWI/DUI, possession of stolen goods, damaging real or personal property and communicating threats.
Class 2: The maximum penalty is 60 days in jail (again, if you have the highest criminal history). Examples of Class 2 misdemeanor offenses include simple assault and issuing a worthless check valued at $2,000 or less (in most cases).
If a Class 2 misdemeanor was committed because of the victim’s race, color, nationality, religion, or country of origin, it would be charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Class 3: This is the least serious type of misdemeanor and carries a maximum penalty of 20 days in jail (highest record level). If you have no prior convictions, you can only receive a fine as punishment, unless the offense statute says otherwise. Examples of Class 3 misdemeanor offenses include disorderly conduct and possession of half an ounce or less of marijuana.
N.C.G.S.§ 15A-1340.23. Below Are The Punishment limits for each class of offense and prior conviction level.
(a) Offense Classification; Default Classifications. – The offense classification is as specified in the offense for which the sentence is being imposed. If the offense is a misdemeanor for which there is no classification, it is as classified in G.S. 14-3.
(b) Fines. – Any judgment that includes a sentence of imprisonment may also include a fine. Additionally, when the defendant is other than an individual, the judgment may consist of a fine only. If a community punishment is authorized, the judgment may consist of a fine only. Unless otherwise provided for a specific offense, the maximum fine that may be imposed is two hundred dollars ($200.00) for a Class 3 misdemeanor and one thousand dollars ($1,000) for a Class 2 misdemeanor. The amount of the fine for a Class 1 misdemeanor and a Class A1 misdemeanor is in the discretion of the court.
(c) Punishment for Each Class of Offense and Prior Conviction Level; Punishment Chart Described. – Unless otherwise provided for a specific offense, the authorized punishment for each class of offense and prior conviction level is as specified in the chart below. Prior conviction levels are indicated by the Roman numerals placed horizontally on the top of the chart. Classes of offenses are indicated by the Arabic numbers placed vertically on the left side of the chart. Each grid on the chart contains the following components:
(1) A sentence disposition or dispositions: “C” indicates that a community punishment is authorized; “I” indicates that an intermediate punishment is authorized; and “A” indicates that an active punishment is authorized; and
(2) A range of durations for the sentence of imprisonment: any sentence within the duration specified is permitted.
Prior Conviction Levels
No Prior Convictions
One to Four Prior Convictions
Five or More Prios Convictions
1-60 days C/I/A
1-45 days C
1-30 days C
1-10 days C
1-75 days C/I/A
1-45 days C/I/A
1-45 days C/I/A
1-15 days C
1-150 days C/I/A
1-120 days C/I/A
1-60 days C/I/A
1-20 days C/I/A
(d) Fine Only for Certain Class 3 Misdemeanors. - Unless otherwise provided for a specific offense, the judgment for a person convicted of a Class 3 misdemeanor who has no more than three prior convictions shall consist only of a fine. (1993, c. 538, s. 1; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(b); 1995, c. 507, s. 19.5(g); 2013-360, s. 18B.13(a).)
Our experienced criminal defense attorneys at Plumides, Romano & Johnson, PC can comb through your charges, gather evidence in your defense, and poke holes in the State’s case against you.
Depending on the evidence and your potential defenses at trial, your attorney can try to negotiate lesser charges, deferred prosecution, or dismissal of your case if you wish. We will of course always protect an individual’s right to trial if, after discussing your case thoroughly, that is how you wish to proceed.
As part of analyzing your potential defenses, our attorneys will comb through the charges against you to see if the State violated your Constitutional rights during the investigation or prosecution of your case. If a judge suppresses certain evidence in your case, that means the State cannot use the evidence against you at trial and dismissal is often in order. With misdemeanor charges , certain witnesses are also usually required to show up to court and testify in order for the State to prove their case.
Remember, you never have to prove your innocence: the State has to prove their case against you.
Guilty Beyond A Reasonable Doubt
The State must prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. A District Court judge will listen to the evidence and determine if the State has proved your guilt. This is called a “bench trial.” You do not have the right to a jury trial in District Court. If the judge finds you not guilty, the case ends, and you may go free. If the judge finds you guilty, the judge will impose a sentence in your case ranging from a small fine, to probation, to an active prison sentence. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor in District Court, you can appeal your conviction to Superior Court. Once in Superior Court, you are entitled to a new trial before a jury of twelve randomly selected members of the community.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a misdemeanor in North Carolina, please contact PRJ Law as soon as possible so that evidence can be gathered in your defense. Our attorneys have made it their lives’ work to vigorously defend individuals against government allegations and stand at the ready to evaluate and fight for your case.