What Crimes are Considered Felonies in North Carolina?

North Carolina recognizes two categories of crimes: misdemeanors and felonies. Felonies carry more severe penalties than misdemeanors. Most misdemeanor crimes carry penalties of under one year in jail, while felony charges can result in lengthy jail sentences, including life in prison. Under North Carolina law, felony charges are divided into ten separate classifications or categories. The most serious felony charges are categorized as Class A felonies, while the least serious are classified as Class I.

Class A Felonies

Class A felony charges are the most serious type of felony charge in North Carolina. Murder in the first degree and unlawful use of a nuclear, biological, or chemical weapon of mass destruction are all considered high-level, Class A felonies. The maximum penalties for Class A felonies include life in prison or the death penalty. Class B, C, and D felonies are also high-level that can carry decades-long prison sentences. They include the following crimes:

  • First-degree sexual offense
  • Second-degree rape
  • Second-degree murder
  • Voluntary manslaughter
  • Armed robbery
Mid-Level Felonies

Class E, F, and G felonies are considered mid-level felonies. Penalties include extended probation and lengthy prison sentences, especially when aggravating factors are involved. Certain drug trafficking crimes fall into this category and carry mandatory minimum jail sentences. Mid-level felonies include the following:

  • Assault with a firearm on a law enforcement officer
  • Child abuse
  • Assault with a deadly weapon
  • Arson of public buildings
  • Habitual impaired driving

The penalties for these crimes vary and depend on the specific factors involved and whether the defendant has been convicted of similar crimes in the past.

Low-Level Felonies

Class H and I felonies are considered low-level felonies. These crimes usually do not carry a mandatory minimum jail sentence. House arrest probation, substance abuse counseling, and community service may be imposed instead of jail time. However, if you have been charged with one of these types of low-level felonies, you should take the charges seriously. You will still have a permanent criminal record if you are convicted. You can still face jail time and suffer ongoing negative consequences in the future. Some of the most commonly charged felonies categorized as Class H offenses include:

  • Escaping from state prison
  • Habitual misdemeanor assault
  • Breaking or entering a building with felonious intent
  • Larceny of property worth more than $1,000
  • First-degree forgery
  • Escaping from state prison
  • Hit and run resulting in another person's injury

Class I felony offenses carry the least severe penalties and include the following:

  • Financial transaction card theft
  • possession of marijuana
  • forgery of notes, checks, or securities
  • breaking or entering Motor Vehicles
Sentencing for Felony Charges

If you have been charged with a felony and have questions about the penalties you will face, the best thing you can do is discuss your case with an experienced attorney. The actual sentencing in your case will depend on multiple factors, including your criminal record, the facts of your case, aggravating and mitigating factors, and whether you negotiate an agreement with the district attorney, also called a plea deal or plea bargain.

Working with an attorney is crucial because your attorney will give you the best chance of having the charges against you dismissed. If you are convicted of a felony, your attorney can present evidence and negotiate a less severe penalty in your case. Judges must consider factors that may make you more or less guilty unless there are mandatory minimum sentencing requirements.

The judge will go through all of the required steps to identify the offense class and determine the prior record level for the felony offense. After that process is finished, there will be some flexibility regarding whether you receive the minimum or maximum penalty. There is also flexibility in whether you will have the sentence immediately imposed on you or suspended. Finally, the sentencing may involve intermediate punishments, community punishments, and probation.

Discuss Your Case with a Skilled Charlotte Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with a felony in North Carolina, it is crucial that you take the charges against you seriously. You could face a lengthy prison sentence, a criminal record, probation, fines, and difficulties finding employment and housing if you are convicted. The skilled criminal defense attorneys Arnold & Smith, PLLC, has a proven track record of fighting for the best outcome possible for clients charged with felonies. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC, today to schedule a free case valuation and learn more about how we can fight for you.