North Carolina Crime Classifications
Not all crimes in North Carolina are punishable by jail time. Depending on an individual's prior criminal history, consequences can range from restitution and fines to extended time in jail or prison. To understand how North Carolina courts view crimes, one must look at general statutes governing the classification between misdemeanors and felonies. Statutes governing criminal law are found in Chapter 14.
Misdemeanors are classified into four classes:
Class A1 misdemeanors - are considered the most severe of misdemeanors and can be punishable by up to 150 days of jail time depending on a defendant's prior convictions. Certain offenses like "assault on an officer" fall into this category.
Class 1 misdemeanors - are punishable by up to 120 days of jail time only for Level 2 (one to four prior convictions) or Level 3 (five or more prior convictions) offenders.
Class 2 misdemeanors - are punishable by up to 60 days of jail time only for a Level 3 defendant (five or more prior convictions).
Class 3 misdemeanors - are punishable by up to 20 days of jail time for a Level 3 (five or more prior convictions).
Under some circumstances, misdemeanors may be viewd more severely. According to NC General Statute § 14-3, "If any Class 2 or Class 3 misdemeanor is committed because of the victim's race, color, religion, nationality, or country of origin, the offender shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. If any Class A1 or Class 1 misdemeanor offense is committed because of the victim's race, color, religion, nationality, or country of origin, the offender shall be guilty of a Class H felony."
Felonies in North Carolina are separated into 10 different classes (A, B1, B2, C, D, E, F, G, H, I).
Class A felonies - are the most serious; punishable by death or life imprisonment.
Felonies and punishment are less severe as the class letter reaches class I.
Class I felonies - are the least serious, with first offenders subject to recieving a sentence of probation. The defendant's prior record level makes a significant difference in sentencing.
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