A misdemeanor is any minor crime that typically is punished by less than a year in county jail and/or a fine. Any crime that is more serious than a misdemeanor is typically classified as a felony. A conviction for a felony crime can result in prison time, a substantial fine, and even the death penalty.  Most states have made sentencing for felonies more straightforward by categorizing felonies into different classes based on the seriousness of the felony, and assigned specific punishments to each class.

Does North Carolina Split Up Its Felonies into Different Classes?

Yes. North Carolina has separated its felony crimes into 10 classes:

  • A
  • B1
  • B2
  • C
  • D
  • E
  • F
  • G
  • H
  • I

Class A is reserved for the most serious crimes such as first-degree murder. Crimes in Class I are the least serious felony crimes in North Carolina, such as breaking or entering a car and obtaining a controlled substance via fraud.

Will Having Prior Convictions Impact My Punishment?

Yes. A person’s exact sentencing is determined by many factors, including prior criminal record. Except for Class A felonies that have life in prison or death, a person can receive a lighter sentence without a prior record according to the point system. In North Carolina, prior convictions are used in determining a person’s sentence through a Prior Record Level system.

What Is the Prior Record Level System?

The Prior Record Level system involves a person accumulating points for any conviction against them that are then used to determine if the person should be subjected to a harsher punishment. The points are broken down into six levels:

  • Level I: zero to one point
  • Level II: two to five points
  • Level III: six to nine points
  • Level IV: 10 to 13 points
  • Level V: 14 to 17 points
  • Level VI: 18 or more points

How Many Points Is Each Felony Worth?

Different classes of felonies are worth different amounts of points:

  • Class A: 10 points
  • Class B1: nine points
  • Class B2, C, or D: six points
  • Class E, F, or G: four points
  • Class H or I: two points

All of the points from the different convictions that the defendant has acquired in the past are added together to determine what level applies to their conviction.

What Is the Punishment for Each Felony Class?

While additional convictions will increase the punishment that a person may face for their felony conviction, the punishment for a person’s first felony conviction is:

  • Class A: life in prison without parole or death
  • Class B1: 192 to 240 months in prison
  • Class B2: 125 to 157 months in prison
  • Class C: 58 to 73 months in prison
  • Class D: 51 to 64 months in prison
  • Class E: 20 to 25 months in prison
  • Class F: 13 to 16 months in prison
  • Class G: 10 to 13 months in prison
  • Class H: five to six months in prison
  • Class I: four to six months in prison

A sentence may also be more or less than what is listed if aggravating or mitigating factors are present that would justify increasing or decreasing the length of the sentence. An intermediate punishment involves supervised probation and may also include:

  • Special probation
  • Drug treatment court program
  • House arrest with electronic monitoring
  • Community service
  • A period of confinement in a local confinement facility
  • Substance abuse assessment, monitoring, or treatment
  • Enrollment in an educational or vocational skills development program
  • Satellite-based monitoring

A community punishment generally consists of a fine or supervised or unsupervised probation, and could also include:

  • Substance abuse assessment, monitoring, or treatment
  • Community service
  • Satellite-based monitoring
  • Enrollment in an educational or vocational skills development program
  • House arrest with electronic monitoring

Do I Need a Lawyer?

If you are facing a felony charge, you will definitely need legal representation. Contact a North Carolina criminal lawyer immediately for help with your felony case.