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Understanding the Difference Between Misdemeanor and Felony Charges in North Carolina

When someone is charged with a crime in North Carolina, the charge can either be a misdemeanor or a felony. The distinction between these two types of charges is important, as they carry different consequences and penalties. In this article, we will explain what constitutes a misdemeanor and a felony charge in North Carolina, provide examples of each, and discuss the potential consequences for those who are charged with either offense.

Misdemeanor Charges in North Carolina

A misdemeanor is a less serious offense than a felony. In North Carolina, a misdemeanor is defined as a crime that is punishable by imprisonment for less than one year, a fine, or both. There are four classes of misdemeanors in North Carolina, with Class 1 misdemeanors being the most serious and Class 3 misdemeanors being the least serious. Examples of misdemeanor charges in North Carolina include:

  • Simple assault

  • Disorderly conduct

  • Driving while impaired (DWI)

  • Possession of marijuana (up to 1.5 ounces)

  • Shoplifting (less than $1,000 in value)

Felony Charges in North Carolina


A felony is a more serious offense than a misdemeanor. In North Carolina, a felony is defined as a crime that is punishable by more than one year of imprisonment. There are ten different classes of felonies in North Carolina, with Class A felonies being the most serious and Class I felonies being the least serious. Examples of felony charges in North Carolina include:

  • Murder

  • Rape

  • Robbery with a dangerous weapon

  • Burglary

  • Possession of a controlled substance (in certain quantities)

  • Embezzlement (over $100,000)

Consequences of Being Charged with a Misdemeanor or Felony in North Carolina

The consequences of being charged with a misdemeanor or felony in North Carolina can be severe. Even a misdemeanor conviction can result in jail time, fines, probation, and a criminal record that can affect employment and housing opportunities. A felony conviction can result in much more severe consequences, including lengthy prison sentences, fines, probation, and the loss of certain civil rights, such as the right to vote or own a firearm. In addition, a felony conviction can have lifelong consequences, as it can be difficult to find employment or housing with a criminal record.

How Coastal South Law Can Assist Defendants with Criminal Charges

In North Carolina, there is a significant difference between misdemeanor and felony charges. Misdemeanors are less serious offenses that are punishable by less than one year of imprisonment, while felonies are more serious offenses that are punishable by more than one year of imprisonment. The potential consequences of being charged with either offense can be severe, including fines, probation, and even imprisonment.


If you have been charged with a misdemeanor or felony in North Carolina, it is important to seek the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. The attorneys at Coastal South Law have extensive experience representing clients in a wide range of criminal cases, including misdemeanors and felonies. We can provide you with legal guidance and representation throughout the criminal justice process, from the initial arrest to the trial and appeal, if necessary. They can also negotiate with prosecutors to seek reduced charges or plea bargains that can minimize the potential consequences of a conviction. Contact us now for a comprehensive and confidential consultation.



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