You know that certain crimes are considered felonies in the state of North Carolina. And you probably know that felonies are “worse” than misdemeanors.
But what does that really mean? How long are the punishments associated with felonies? What makes something a felony in North Carolina?
First off, there are two types of criminal charges: felonies and misdemeanors. As mentioned above, felonies are the more severe of the two.
Felonies have different classifications for different crimes, but that does not mean a felony sentence is set in stone. Let’s look at the 11 felony classifications of felonies in our state.
An In-Depth Look at North Carolina’s Felony Classifications
North Carolina classifies felonies from Class A to Class I. Class B has two parts, Class B1 and Class B2. Below you will find information on the penalties, points, and crimes associated with each classification.
This is considered the most serious felony in North Carolina.
Examples of Class A felonies: 1st degree murder, unlawful use of a weapon of mass destruction (if you have injured another person)
Prison sentence: death, or life without parole
Points given for prior Class A conviction: 10
Examples of Class B1 felonies: 1st degree rape, 1st degree sexual offense, statutory rape
Prison sentence: 144 months – life without parole
Points given for prior Class B1 conviction: 9
Example: 2nd degree murder, conspiracy to commit a Class A or Class B1 felony
Prison sentence: 94-393 months
Points given for prior Class B2 conviction: 6
Class C is the felony sentence for habitual felons.
Examples: 2nd degree rape, 2nd degree sexual offense, 1st degree kidnapping, embezzlement ($100,000 or more), child abuse (bodily injury)
Prison sentence: 44-182 months
Points given for prior Class C conviction: 6
Examples: voluntary manslaughter, 1st degree arson, 1st degree burglary, drug trafficking (10,000+ pounds)
Prison sentence: 38-160 months
Points given for prior Class D conviction: 6
Examples: child abuse, patient abuse, assault with a deadly weapon (intent to kill)
Prison sentence: 15-63 months
Points given for prior Class E conviction: 4
Examples: assault with a deadly weapon upon law enforcement, burning of public or educational buildings, perjury, bribery
Prison sentence: 10-41 months
Points given for prior Class F conviction: 4
Examples: common law robbery, drug violations (minors)
Prison sentence: 8-31 months
Points given for prior Class G conviction: 4
Examples: larceny, looting, forgery, embezzlement (<$100,000)
Prison sentence: 4-25 months
Points given for prior Class H conviction: 2
Examples: domestic violence, credit card fraud (over $500), crimes against nature, fraudulent misrepresentation
Prison sentence: 3-12 months
Points given for prior Class I conviction: 2
Different factors will affect sentencing, including a prior conviction record or other aggravating/mitigating factors.
That’s what those points listed above reflect. Each time you commit a felony, points are added to your record. Once the points have been calculated, you are given a classification from Level I to Level VI. The point system is as follows:
Level I: 0-1 points
Level II: 2-5 points
Level III: 6-9 points
Level IV: 10-13 points
Level V: 14-17 points
Level VI: 18+ points
If I Am Convicted of a Felony, Will I Go to Prison?
Not necessarily. If you are given an active sentence, than you will be sentenced to prison. However, North Carolina also gives intermediate and community sentences for convicted felons. Penalties for these kinds of sentences include house arrest, time in a drug treatment center, or community service.
There are a couple of things that you should know about getting charged, though. First off, North Carolina does not have a statute of limitations for filing felony charges. Whether you are alleged to have committed a felony yesterday or 30 years ago, charges can still be filed. This is not the case in most states.
The second important thing to understand about felonies is that you can be charged without actually physically committing a crime. This may sound crazy, but it’s true.
It’s called Conspiracy and Solicitation to Commit a Felony, which basically means that you were attempting to commit a felony.
Under state law, conspiracy falls under the felony classification that is one below what you would be charged with if you actually went through with the felony. For example, conspiracy to commit a Level H felony will be charged with a Level I felony.
Solicitation to commit a felony is two classes lower than the felony itself. So solicitation to commit a Level D felony is a Level F felony.
As you can see, our felony laws are not only strict and severe, but confusing. If you are having trouble understanding your felony charge, contact a North Carolina criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
About the Author:
Attorney Mike Schlosser represents victims of personal injury, those charged with a crime, as well as those facing traffic charges. A former Guilford County, North Carolina District Attorney, Schlosser has been in private practice at the Law Firm of Schlosser & Pritchett since 1983 and has been a member of the North Carolina State Bar since 1973.