Misdemeanor Charges and PenaltiesIn North Carolina, there are two categories of crimes: felonies and misdemeanors. Felonies are the most serious offenses, and a conviction can result in a lengthy prison sentence and fines. You may be relieved if you are charged with committing a more “minor” misdemeanor crime. However, you would be making a big mistake to not take your misdemeanor charge seriously. A conviction could still result in harsh consequences—including a permanent criminal record.

What Are Common Misdemeanor Crimes That You Could Be Charged With Committing?

Misdemeanors are divided into four categories in North Carolina, depending on the severity of the offense. These classifications and common crimes that fall into each category include:

  • Class 3 Misdemeanor. This is the least serious type of misdemeanor offense. Common crimes that fall within this classification include shoplifting, simple possession marijuana, which is less than 0.02 ounces, second-degree trespassing, and some city and county ordinance violations.
  • Class 2 Misdemeanor. Simple assault, disorderly conduct, reckless driving, and unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon are a few of the crimes you could be charged with that are Class 2 misdemeanors.
  • Class 1 Misdemeanor. Class 1 misdemeanors are more serious crimes, like larceny and possession of stolen property, breaking or entering, and soliciting a prostitute.
  • Class A1 Misdemeanor. Class A1 misdemeanors are the most serious misdemeanor crimes that you could be charged with. Examples in this classification include assault on a female, assault with a deadly weapon, child abuse, and sexual battery.

What Penalties Could You Face If You Are Convicted of a Misdemeanor?

You could face three different types of penalties if you are convicted of a misdemeanor crime. They include the following:

  • Active Punishment. Active punishment involves a jail sentence that you would serve in a local jail or other confinement facility.
  • Intermediate Punishment. You could face an intermediate punishment if the judge sentences you to supervised probation. Terms of your probation could include house arrest with electronic monitoring, drug treatment court, satellite based monitoring, and some small periods of time in a jail or other confinement facility.
  • Community Punishment. Community punishment does not include jail time. You would most likely face a fine, possible probation, or community service.

North Carolina’s sentencing is based on a sentencing range for the crime’s misdemeanor classification and the person’s prior conviction level—his criminal history record. Your sentence will be based in part on one of these prior conviction levels:

  • Level I – No prior convictions.
  • Level II – One through four prior convictions.
  • Level III – Five or more convictions.

Once your prior conviction level is established, the judge would sentence you based on the range of sentence for the misdemeanor classification that your crime falls within. If your prior criminal history fell within a Level II or Level III conviction level, your sentence would be more severe than if you were classified into Level I. Your possible sentence could include the following:

  • Class 3 Misdemeanors. You could be sentenced to 1 to 30 days of active, intermediate, or community punishment. The maximum penalty would be 30 days in jail and a $200 fine.
  • Class 2 Misdemeanors. The sentence for a Class 2 misdemeanor is 1 to 60 days of active, intermediate, or community punishment, with the maximum penalty being 60 days in jail and a fine of $1,000.
  • Class 1 Misdemeanors. The sentencing range is 1 to 120 days of active, intermediate, or community punishment. The maximum jail time you could face would be 120 days. There is no maximum fine that could be assessed. This is completely in the judge’s discretion.
  • Class A1 Misdemeanors. You could be sentenced to 1 to 150 days of active, intermediate, or community punishment, with a maximum jail sentence of 150 days. Like with a Class 1 misdemeanor, the judge would have complete discretion on the amount of the fine you could have to pay.

Even if you believe you are guilty of the misdemeanor offense that you are charged with committing, you need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. You could have defenses to the charges that may result in them being dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense with fewer consequences. An attorney can determine these defenses and use them to fight the charges that you face. Start an online chat today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.

Are You Looking for a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Charlotte, NC?

If you are facing criminal charges, you need to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Charlotte office directly at 980.207.3355 to schedule your free consultation.


Howard W. Long, II
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Charlotte Criminal Defense and DWI Lawyer