Wake County Justice Center

Misdemeanor Sentencing

If I am convicted of a class 2 misdemeanor offense, what happens?

Before we can get to the nuts and bolts of this question, let’s understand what a misdemeanor offense is and how it’s different from other criminal offenses.

Criminal offenses range from traffic infractions to misdemeanor and felony offenses. They each carry a range of levels with varying severity for punishment purposes.

When a criminal offense is considered a misdemeanor, with few exceptions, such as impaired driving as the most common one, the misdemeanor classification follows the Structured Sentencing Act, which classifies each crime based on its severity.

Levels of Misdemeanors

Class A1 misdemeanor is the most severe criminal offense. Following that, we have Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3, as the least severe one. The charges below are the most common ones, if your charge isn’t listed, contact our office to find out it’s level.

Class A1

  • Assault with a Deadly Weapon
  • Violation of a Restraining Order
  • Assault Inflicting Serious Injury
  • Sexual Battery
  • Assault on a Female or Government Employee

Class 1

  • Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
  • Larceny
  • Possession of Stolen Goods
  • Injury to Real or Personal Property
  • Communicating Threats
  • Prostitution

Class 2

  • Simple Assault
  • Disorderly Conduct
  • Resisting a Police Officer
  • Carrying a Concealed Weapon

Class 3

  • Possession of Marijuana up to 1/2 oz.
  • Concealment of Goods
  • Possession of Alcohol by 19/20
  • City Code Violations
ClassJail TimeFine
Class 1AUp to 150 DaysJudge’s Discretion
Class 1Up to 120 DaysJudge’s Discretion
Class 2Up to 60 DaysUp to $1,000
Class 3Up to 20 DaysUp to $200

Determining Your Sentencing Level

A Judge must take 5 steps to determine your sentencing level:

  1. Determine the offense class
  2. Determine the prior conviction level
  3. Choose the length of imprisonment
  4. Select a sentence disposition
  5. Decide whether restitution applies

Step 1

First we identify the offense class in the General Statute 14-3 (a). When a misdemeanor has no classification, it is generally considered Class 1. As a general rule, conspiracies and attempts are punished one class below the main offense.

Step 2

Then we need to determine the defendant’s prior conviction level (I through III). The prior conviction level is based on the total number of prior felony or misdemeanor convictions (infractions and juvenile adjudications do not count). Level I is assigned to defendants who have no prior convictions; Level II for those who have one to four prior convictions; and Level III for those with five or more prior convictions. Multiple convictions in one single session in District Court count as one, as well as multiple convictions in one single week in Superior Court. 

Step 3

Once we have that determined we can then select the length of imprisonment, which is found at the statutory table of punishments in G.S. 15A-1340.23. The length of jail time for a defendant, depending on the offense class and the conviction history, can vary (see chart above).

Step 4

Next we select a sentencing type (referred to as the disposition in court), which can be: Active (A), Intermediate (I) or Community Punishment (C), or a combination of one or more. The sentence type, just like the amount of jail time you might serve, varies according to the defendant’s prior conviction level.

Active punishment basically means jail time and can be reduced in some circumstances. Intermediate punishment is less restrictive than jail, but more strict supervision than unsupervised probation. In cases like that, the Court is authorized to impose a period of probation ranging from 12 to 24 months.

Lastly, community punishment consists of a probation period that can vary from 6 to 18 months, or a fine only without probation. The range of intermediate or community punishment can be shorter or longer, but never exceeds more than 5 years, and a fine can be imposed as part of any disposition.

Step 5

Finally we can consider the appropriateness of restitution (money paid to victim). The restitution requirements are described in G.S. 15A-1340.34 through 15A-1340.38 . Be on the lookout for another blog about restitution!

What’s the Outcome?

If you’re convicted of a misdemeanor offense, there is quite a few possible outcomes. It will all come down to the offense class, the prior conviction history and so forth. Let’s say John Doe is convicted of Simple Assault. In order for Joe Doe to find out what comes next, the Judge must take all five steps as previously explained.

  1. G.S. 14-33 (a) classifies Simple Assault as a Class 2 misdemeanor.
  2. G.S. 15A-1340.21(b) all three prior conviction levels, meaning, if John Doe has no prior convictions, the sentencing Court would consider Level I terms; if he has one to four prior convictions, then Level II; if five or more convictions, then Level III.
  3. John Doe can face 1-10 days, 1-45 days, or 1-60 days depending on what sentence length the sentencing Court selects.
  4. Joe Doe can face Community Punishment, Community Punishment/Intermediate Punishment, or Community Punishment/Intermediate Punishment/Active Punishment (for Classes 3, 2 and 1); or Community Punishment/Intermediate Punishment/Active Punishment (for Class A1).
  5. Joe Doe can be required to provide restitution for any damages caused.

Unfortunately, there is no clear cut answer. Depending on the circumstances, you can be convicted of Simple Assault (Class 2 misdemeanor) and sentenced to a fine only, without probation, whereas others can carry a sentence that ranges from 6 to 24 months of probation, or a combination of probation and active jail time. The best option is always to consult with an attorney. Matheson & Associates is always available to discuss your options. Give us a call at (919)335-5291.   

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