Misdemeanor Charges

North Carolina categorizes misdemeanors into four separate classes: Class A1, Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3. Class A1 misdemeanors are considered the most serious charges, and the severity of possible punishment is lowered with each class. Any of these classes of misdemeanors is significantly less serious than a felony charge. For information on felony charges in North Carolina, click here.

Possible Punishments for Each Misdemeanor Class

In order for a judge to decide the appropriate punishment for someone convicted of a misdemeanor in North Carolina, she must consider both the class of misdemeanor and the person’s prior criminal record. A person’s prior convictions plays a large part in the severity of punishment they receive for a current conviction.

Each class of misdemeanor carries a different sentencing range.  Each range is also divided into three different types of punishment. As mentioned earlier, a person’s prior record will largely dictate which type of punishment they will receive.

• Class A1: up to 150 days in jail, intermediate, or community punishment
• Class 1: up to 120 days in jail, intermediate, or community punishment
• Class 2: up to 60 days in jail, intermediate, or community punishment
• Class 3: up to 20 days in jail, intermediate, or community punishment

Prior Criminal Records

Anyone convicted of a misdemeanor offense in North Carolina will be punished according to the severity of the charge and their prior criminal record level. There are three different prior record levels, and their definitions are straightforward. If a person has no prior criminal record, they are considered to be in Level I for sentencing. For those with five or more prior convictions, they are considered to be in Level III for sentencing. For those with one to four prior convictions, they are considered to be Level II.

• Level I: no previous convictions
• Level II: 1 – 4 previous convictions
• Level III: 5 or more previous conviction

Possible Sentences for Each Record Level in North Carolina

Once a judge has determined a person’s prior record level, she can impose a punishment that is within the range of penalties for that class and level. Below is a chart commonly used by judges in determining misdemeanor sentences.


No Prior Convictions One to Four Prior Convictions Five or More Prior Convictions
A1 C/I/A
1-60 days
1-75 days
1-150 days
1 C/I/A
1-45 days
1-45 days
1-120 days
2  C/I/A
1-30 days
1-45 days
1-60 days
3  C/I/A
1-10 days
1-15 days
1-20 days

A – Active Punishment I-Intermediate Punishment C – Community Punishment
Cells with slash allow either disposition at the discretion of the judge.

As an example, someone with no prior record who has committed a Class 2 misdemeanor faces up to 30 days of community punishment. If that person was convicted of the same class misdemeanor but was a record Level III, they could faces up to 60 days of either community, intermediate, or active punishment in the judges’s discretion. The court is able to sentence someone anywhere within the outlined range.

Active, Intermediate, and Community Punishments in North Carolina

North Carolina law allows for three different ways that a misdemeanor sentence can be served. Those three ways are: imposing an active jail sentence, imposing an intermediate punishment, or imposing a community punishment. Intermediate and community punishments give judges the ability to impose judgements that do not warrant jail time. These type of judgments may include, a term of probation, drug or mental health treatment, house arrest, or community service.

Possible Fines for Misdemeanors in North Carolina

In every class of misdemeanor in North Carolina, a judge has the ability to assess a fine. Some laws govern how much of a fine can be given for a specific charge. Unless otherwise specified under a specific statute, a judge has discretion to impose fines to up to the following maximums for misdemeanors:

• Class A1: in the court’s discretion
• Class 1: in the court’s discretion
• Class 2: up to $1,000
• Class 3: up to $200

A fine can be in addition to any active, intermediate, or community punishment.

Common Crimes Under the Different Misdemeanor Classes in North Carolina

Below is a very short list of the most common crimes under each misdemeanor class. There are thousands of possible misdemeanor charges in North Carolina ranging from simple traffic tickets to sexual battery.

Class A1

Assault on a Female
Assault on a Government Official
Sexual Battery

Class 1

Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (non-marijuana)
Driving With a Revoked License for DWI Suspension

Class 2

• Carrying a Firearm Without a Permit
• Simple Assault
• Cyberstalking

Class 3

• Simple possession of marijuana
• Misuse of 911 system
Driving With a Revoked License

Finding the Right Lawyer for a Misdemeanor in Raleigh and Wake County

Although misdemeanors are considered less serious than felonies, it is still unwise for someone to attempt to handle one of these charges without the help an experienced attorney. The possible punishments can be severe, and for most, a tarnished criminal record is more of a punishment that jail time.

Steven Saad if a former Wake County District Attorney who has literally handled hundreds of thousands of misdemeanor charges in this county. During his tenure as a prosecutor, Steven spent a significant amount of time as the District Court Supervisor where he was in charge of all misdemeanor prosecutions in Wake County. Do not waste the opportunity to speak with a former prosecutor about the best way to handle your misdemeanor charge.