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Penalties for Misdemeanors in North Carolina

Most people know that a misdemeanor is less serious than a felony, but that does not mean it is okay to write it off or leave your trial up to chance. Misdemeanors can still have serious penalties that can affect your future and job prospects, including steep fines and up to a year in jail. Having a criminal record can affect your housing, employment, and education prospects, even if it is not a felony conviction. For this reason, it is really important to play an active and engaged role in your own representation. The first step is understanding what you are being charged with and what kind of penalties you may be facing. The information in this article is intended to be general, however, no two cases are alike. If you have specific questions about your individual case, you are welcome to contact the experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorneys at Coastal South Law to schedule a consultation.

Understanding Misdemeanor Charges in North Carolina

In North Carolina, there are four categories of misdemeanor charges: A1, 1, 2, and 3. Class 3 is the least serious category of misdemeanor charges. It includes offenses such as violating county code, possessing a small amount of marijuana, driving a vehicle with a revoked license (but not while impaired), some incidents of shoplifting, and second degree trespass. Class 2 is slightly more serious, including things like operating a boat while intoxicated, simple assault, reckless driving, disorderly conduct, and illegally carrying a concealed weapon. Class 1 offenses are quite serious, including things like prostition, larceny and possession of stolen goods, breaking and entering, injury to personal property, and hit and run with property damage. Class A1 offenses are the most severe misdemeanor offenses that exist and generally deal with assault. Common examples include assault with a deadly weapon, assault on a vulnerable individual such as a woman, child, or handicapped person, child abuse, violating a protective order or restraining order, and some instances of causing death with a vehicle.

Penalties for Misdemeanors in North Carolina

When sentencing people, the court can choose between active, intermediate, and community punishment. Active punishment consists of jail time in a local confinement facility, while intermediate punishment is more equivalent to probation. Community punishment is the least severe form of punishment. Community service, skill-development classes, and fines, are all forms of community punishment. Each class of misdemeanor offense corresponds to its own range of appropriate penalties. For instance, the penalty recommended for a Class 3 misdemeanor is up to 20 days active, intermediate, or community punishment, and a possible fine of up to $200. On the other hand, the penalty for a Class A1 misdemeanor is a maximum of 150 days active, intermediate, or community punishment, and a fine with no maximum left to the discretion of the court. The judge will decide where you fall in this range of recommended penalties based on your criminal history. Individuals with no prior convictions will receive the lightest penalties, or “Level 1” penalties, while individuals with between one and four prior convictions will receive Level 2 penalties, and individuals with five or more prior convictions will receive Level 3, or the harshest penalties.

Talk to a North Carolina Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you are facing misdemeanor charges in North Carolina, contact Coastal South Law today and schedule a consultation to find out how we can help you fight for the best possible outcome in your case.

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