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Misdemeanor Sentencing in North Carolina


Have you been charged with a misdemeanor criminal offense in North Carolina? This article explains how sentencing works for misdemeanor criminal charges in NC. We’ll be breaking down the types of punishment that can stem as a result of a misdemeanor, the sentencing structure that goes along with it, as well as the class levels of convictions. Marijuana possession is an example of a common North Carolina misdemeanor charge.

Sentencing Structure

Misdemeanor punishment chart.PNG

This chart uses a classification system based on

1. The seriousness of the crime

2. The number of prior convictions (crimes convicted for)

The chart guides the conviction for the type of sentencing (whether its active, intermediate, or community) as well as the length. Each misdemeanor is assigned to a class, which you can see on the left side of the chart (A1, 1, 2, and 3). Generally, the misdemeanor classes are based on the maximum punishment prescribed under the previous law.

Misdemeanor Class Law Before Structure Sentencing

Class 1: Punishable by more than six months up to two years

Class 2: Punishable by more than 30 days up to six months

Class 3: Punishable by 30 days or less  

*Note that the A1 class is an exception to this rule, as it is specifically for assault cases.  Here is a chart that shows the structure of A1 misdemeanors.

Below you’ll find a detailed description of the steps that are used to impose a misdemeanor sentencing.

1) Determine the offense class for each misdemeanor conviction.

2) Determine the prior conviction level for the offender.

3) Select a sentence length from the appropriate sentence range.

4) Select a sentence disposition from those authorized.

A. Impose an active punishment.

1) Activate the sentence length.

B. Impose an intermediate punishment.

1) Suspend the sentence length.

2) Impose supervised probation.

3) Impose one or more intermediate punishment.

4) Impose any appropriate community punishments.

C. Impose a community punishment.

1) Suspend the sentence length.

2) Impose probation and/or any other appropriate punishment.

Types of Punishment: Breakdown

Active: Requires offender to spend a specified time in local jail or state prison. Misdemeanors who face a 90 day or less sentence must serve their time in a local confinement facility (jail) Intermediate:  Requires a sentence of supervised probation. Some examples include special probation, drug treatment programs, house arrest, or intensive supervision.

Community: Any authorized punishment that is neither active or intermediate. A community punishment generally consists of a fine or a term of unsupervised (or supervised) probation. Here are all the different forms of community punishment.

1. Any authorized condition of probation (except those defined as intermediate punishments)

2. Outpatient drug/alcohol treatment

3. Community service

4. Referral to T.A.S.C. (Treatment Accountability for Safer Communities)

5. Restitution

6. Fines

If you have any questions or have been charged with a misdemeanor criminal offense, please call The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel, PLLC for a free consultation at (919) 585-1486. Attorney Wiley Nickel can also be reached by email at wiley@wileynickel.com. Our office is located in Cary, NC and we handle misdemeanor criminal charges in Wake County and Durham County, NC.

Wiley Nickel