There are two main classes of crimes in North Carolina: misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors are divided into four different categories (A1, 1, 2, and 3), depending on the seriousness of the offense. The final outcome in any particular case depends on the individual facts of the case, the defendant’s criminal record, and any agreements that the defendant enters into with the district attorney’s office.
A Class 3 misdemeanor, the least serious type of misdemeanor, carries a maximum penalty of twenty days in jail and a $200 fine. Class 3 misdemeanors include simple possession of marijuana, concealing goods in a store, and city code violations.
A Class 2 misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of sixty days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Class 2 misdemeanors include simple assault, disorderly conduct, resisting a police officer, and carrying a concealed weapon.
A Class 1 misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of 120 days in jail and a discretionary fine. Class 1 misdemeanors include possession of drug paraphernalia, larceny, possession of stolen goods, damaging real or personal property, communicating threats, and prostitution.
A Class A1 misdemeanor, the most serious type of misdemeanor, carries a maximum penalty of 150 days in jail and a discretionary fine. Class A1 misdemeanors include assault with a deadly weapon, assault inflicting serious injury, assault on a female or a government employee, violation of a restraining order, and sexual battery.
If you have been charged with a misdemeanor, your case will be heard in district court. You may have a number of options in your case. You may negotiate a plea agreement and pleading guilty, or you may plead not guilty and request a trial. Depending on your criminal record, you may be eligible to participate in a community-service or substance-abuse counseling program that will result in dismissal of your case.
If you request a trial, the State must prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. District-court trials take place before a single judge who hears evidence and determines whether the State has proved your guilt. If the judge finds you not guilty, the case ends and you may go free. If the judge finds you guilty, the judge will impose a sentence in your case ranging from a small fine, to probation, to an active prison sentence. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor in district court, you may appeal your conviction to superior court. Once in superior court, you are entitled to a new trial before a jury of twelve randomly-selected members of the community.
Misdemeanor charges require skilled and experienced legal representation. If the State does not have sufficient evidence to prove that you committed a criminal offense, you may be entitled to a dismissal or a reduction in your charge. Similarly, if the State violated your civil rights during the investigation or prosecution of your case, a judge may suppress certain evidence in your case, meaning that the State cannot use the evidence against you at trial. Contact our office today for a consultation in your particular misdemeanor case.