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.
To make things even more confusing we have infractions which do not have jail time (i.e. some driving charges) and we treat drunk driving (DWI) as its own totally separate system on punishment system.
Class 3 Misdemeanor
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, DWLR, 2nd degree trespass and city code violations. Now if you have less than four prior convictions on your record you can only be charged with a fine for a class 3 misdemeanor – so jail time and probation Is officially off the table for many in North Carolina.
Class 2 Misdemeanor
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.
Class 1 Misdemeanor
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 Class 1 misdemeanors include possession of drug paraphernalia, larceny, DWLR if your license was revoked for DWI, possession of stolen goods, damaging real or personal property and communicating threats.
Class A1 Misdemeanor
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, assault on a government employee and violation of a restraining order.
What are my Options?
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.
- Your attorney can negotiate a plea deal where plead guilty to a lesser charge.
- Your attorney can show the District Attorney what a strong case you have or why the charges are bad and the DA will dismiss the case.
- If witnesses do not show up to court the case can ultimately be dismissed if the witness never shows up.
- 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. This is called a deferral program.
- You can plead “not guilty” and request a trial.
What happens if I have a trial?
If you request a trial, the State must prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. District-court trials take place before a judge who hears evidence and determines whether the State has proved your guilt. This is called a “bench trial.” You do not have the right to a jury trial in District Court. 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 can 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.
What will show up on my record afterwards?
Unfortunately whenever anyone is charged with a crime (not matter how totally bogus the charges are) the record remains forever unless it is expunged. We handle expungements for dismissed cases and also expungements for certain crimes where there is a conviction on your record. For many the worst part of a crime isn’t the punishment it’s the effect on their ability to earn a living. Even if the charge was a mistake and you had nothing to do with a hypothetical assault case you will still have to explain to a prospective employer why you have a dismissed assault charge on your record – unless it is expunged. We will fight hard to protect your reputation and will explain the rules to expunge your charges if you are eligible.
A Wake County misdemeanor charge requires a skilled and experienced lawyer. If the State of North Carolina does not have sufficient evidence to prove that you committed a crime you may be entitled to a dismissal or a reduction of your charge. Or if the State violated your Constitutional 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 and dismissal is usually in order. Contact our Wake County law office today for a free consultation about your particular misdemeanor case. Raleigh attorney Wiley Nickel will walk you through the steps for your case and offers free consultations. You can reach The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel, PLLC at our office located in Cary, NC at 919-948-7159.