• North Carolina Misdemeanor Crimes | A Review of the N.C. Misdemeanor Sentencing Guidelines
  • April 18, 2012
  • Law Firm: Matheson Law Office PLLC - Raleigh Office
  • Being charged with a North Carolina Misdemeanor can be a nerve-racking experience. Beyond the fact that having to go to court, eventually before a judge, the fact that this will end up on you record can be very frightening. Additionally, not understanding what kind of sentence you could face can also cause Defendants anxiety about your North Carolina Misdemeanor. Even without the help of a good Durham Criminal Lawyer, or any other North Carolina Criminal Lawyer, understanding the sentencing structure will help. This article will explain each sentence level, the factors used to determine what level the Defendant is sentenced to, and what sentence each level carries with it.

    All North Carolina Misdemeanors are assigned one of 4 class levels: 1A, 1, 2, or 3. Class 1A is the most serious misdemeanor crime in North Carolina where a class 3 is the least severe. Additionally, when determining the sentence of a Defendant convicted of a misdemeanor, the Judge will consider the Defendant's prior record. The prior record will determine whether the Defendant is a level 1, level 2, or level 3. Level 1 is for those with no prior convictions and is the least serious. A level 2 is for Defendants with 1 to 4 prior convictions, and level 3 is for five or more prior convictions.

    Once a Defendant is convicted of a North Carolina Misdemeanor Crime, they face the sentencing phase of their case. During sentencing hearing, the District Attorney will present the evidence in the case as well as any aggravating (bad) factors about the case the DA feels is important. Additionally, the DA will give the Judge the sentencing level of the crime(s) in question as well as the Defendant's prior criminal record. These two factors are used by the Judge to determine what range to sentence the Defendant. Additionally, the Defendant's Criminal Defense Attorney will be permitted to present mitigating (good) facts in order to try and persuade the judge to sentence the Defendant in the lower area of the sentencing range.

    The ranges have three categories with regards to the amount of time the Defendant is sentenced to. The three categories are: 1. Active Punishment (A), Intermediate Punishment(I), or 3. Community Punishment(C). Active Sentence means time spent in jail, Community Punishment is normally time spent performing community service and Intermediate Sentence are those which are normally split between Active Punishment and Community Sentence. The amount of time spent in these different levels is at the Judge's Discretion; as is what type of punishment the Defendant will serve when multiple options are available (i.e. C/I/A). As for what sentence carries with it what punishment, the following will explain:

    Class 3: L1 - 1-10 days C, L2 - 1-15 days C/I, L3 - 1-20 days C/I/A.

    Class 2: L1 - 1-30 days C, L2 - 1-45 days C/I, L3 - 1-60 days C/I/A.

    Class 1: L1 - 1-45 days C, L2 - 1-45 days C/I/A, L3 - 1-120 days C/I/A.

    Class 1A: L1 - 1-60 days C/I/A, L2 - 1-75 days C/I/A, L3 - 1-150 days C/I/A.


    Though this article provides some insight in to Misdemeanor Sentencing in North Carolina, a Defendant should ALWAYS speak with a local, skilled Criminal Defense Attorney regarding their particular case.

    Disclaimer - Information and advice offered in this article is for informational and educational purposes only and is specific to North Carolina law. The viewing, receipt and/or exchange of information from this article does not constitute an Attorney-Client Relationship. For assistance regarding your particular legal question speak with an Attorney practicing in the field from which your questions derives.