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Misdemeanor Sentencing in NC

Misdemeanor Sentencing in NC

During a free consultation, I will always let my clients know what kind of punishment they are looking at for a conviction of a misdemeanor offense.  Misdemeanor offenses are classified into four separate classes, 1A (the most severe), 1, 2, and 3 (the least severe).  Most misdemeanor assaults and misdemeanor sexual offenses are in the 1A class.

Sentencing, which is conducted by the judge, can vary greatly depending on the prior record level of the defendant. There are three types of record levels, represented by the numerals I, II, and III. A record level of I means that the defendant has no prior convictions. A record level of II means that the defendant has between one and four prior convictions. A record level of III means the defendant has five or more prior convictions. For purposes of counting convictions, if an offender is convicted of more than one offense in single session of District Court, or in a single week of Superior Court or a court of another jurisdiction, only one of the convictions may be used to determine prior conviction level. So if Joe Smith is convicted of Simple Assault and Disorderly Conduct on the same court date in Wake County, only 1 prior conviction point can be used for the purpose of determining his prior record level.

Below is a chart that matches a defendant’s prior record level with the class of the current misdemeanor offense he is charged with to provide a range of punishment the judge will use during sentencing.  Please see N.C.G.S. §15A-1340.20 for the full statute on misdemeanor sentencing.

 

     OFFENSE CLASS     I – No Priors     II – One to Four Priors         III – 5+ Priors

A1

1-60 days

C/I/A

1-75 days

C/I/A

1-150 days

C/I/A

1

1-45 days

C

1-45 days

C/I/A

1-120 days

C/I/A

2

1-30 days

C

1-45 days

C/I

1-60 days

C/I/A

3

1-10 days

C

1-15 days

C/I

1-20 days

C/I/A

C- Community Punishment

I- Intermediate Punishment

A- Active Punishment

 

Any box that does not have an ‘A’ in it, such as ‘C’ or ‘C/I’, generally means that the judge will not order active jail time for that offense. So if Joe Smith had no prior convictions, and was charged with Disorderly Conduct, a Class 2 misdemeanor, he would generally not be looking at an active jail sentence, but rather, could be ordered to pay the fine only. The maximum fine that may be imposed is $200 for a Class 3 misdemeanor and $1,000 for a Class 2 misdemeanor. The amount of the fine for a Class 1 and Class 1A misdemeanor is in the discretion of the court.

Keep in mind that a judge may always order immediate active jail time for contempt of court.  Intermediate punishment places an offender on supervised probation and includes at least another condition, such as special probation, electronic house arrest, drug court, intensive supervision, or assignment to a residential program or day-reporting center. The facts behind every offense are different and can dramatically affect the range and type of punishment a person could be faced with. Contact Raleigh criminal defense attorney Matthew Golden today to discuss the specific facts of your case to get an idea of what you could be facing.