A misdemeanor offense is a lesser crime with penalties consisting of a fine and/or county jail time of one year or less. These crimes typically include offenses such as resisting arrest, theft, trespassing, and failure to appear in court. A felony offense is a more serious crime where the penalty could be prison time, a hefty fine, or the death penalty. Some examples of felony crimes are murder, burglary, and robbery. Many states further divide crimes into subcategories beyond just misdemeanor and felony.

Does North Carolina Have Subcategories For Its Misdemeanors?

Yes. North Carolina divides its misdemeanor offenses into four categories:

  • A1
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

What Kind of Misdemeanor Falls into the A1 Category?

A1 misdemeanors are the most serious of all misdemeanors in North Carolina. They include assault on a child under 12 years of age, violation of a valid protective order, and assault by pointing a gun. The penalty for a first conviction of this category of offense is one to 60 days of active punishment, intermediate punishment, or community punishment.

What Are Active, Intermediate, and Community Punishment?

In North Carolina, active punishment for a misdemeanor consists of time in jail. Intermediate punishment consists of supervised probation and may also include:

  • Special probation
  • House arrest with electronic monitoring or satellite-based monitoring
  • Community service
  • Time in jail
  • Substance abuse assessment, monitoring, or treatment, including treatment through a court program
  • Enrollment in a vocational skills development program or an educational program

A community punishment generally consists of a fine or supervised or unsupervised probation, and could also include any of the other additional punishments for an intermediate punishment with the exception of special probation, jail time, and assignment to a drug treatment court.

What Is the Punishment for the Other Misdemeanor Categories in North Carolina?

The punishment that one may receive for a first conviction for a misdemeanor in one of the remaining categories is as follows:

  • Class 1: One to 45 days of community punishment
  • Class 2: One to 30 days of community punishment
  • Class 3: One to 10 days of community punishment

Will I Receive a Harsher Punishment If I Have Prior Convictions?

Yes. In North Carolina, there are three different levels of punishment based on how many convictions that one has:

  • Level I: no prior convictions
  • Level II:  one to four prior convictions
  • Level III: five or more prior convictions

The punishments for Level II and Level III are typically harsher than Level I, both in terms of the length of the sentence and the type of punishment. Unlike Level I, where many of the punishments consist only of community punishment, Levels II and III often result in an intermediate or an active punishment.

Should I Contact a Lawyer about My Misdemeanor Charge?

Legal representation is a necessity whenever one is facing a criminal charge. Contact a North Carolina lawyer immediately if you are facing a misdemeanor charge in North Carolina.