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What Is the Difference Between a Misdemeanor and a Felony?

On behalf of Randall & Stump, PLLC in Criminal Defense on Tuesday, March 26, 2019

 

All crimes are considered serious in North Carolina. However, some offenses are more severe than others. These crimes are known as felonies, while less severe criminal acts are classified as misdemeanors. Keep reading to learn more about the differences between misdemeanors and felonies.

If you’ve been charged with a crime, it is in your best interest to consult a highly skilled Charlotte criminal defense lawyer at Randall & Stump, PLLC. We may be able to improve your situation through a solid defense strategy. Call us at (980) 237-4579 today, or reach out via the online contact form to schedule a free and confidential case consultation.

What is a Misdemeanor?

In North Carolina, misdemeanors are divided into four categories, depending on offense and severity of your alleged actions. In the state, these crimes are classified as follows:

  • Class A1 – The most serious misdemeanor crimes you may be charged with are class A1 misdemeanors. Examples include child abuse, sexual battery, and assault with a deadly weapon.
  • Class 1 – Larceny (when the stolen items are worth less than $1,000) is considered a class 1 misdemeanor.
  • Class 2 – Disorderly conduct, simple assault, and reckless driving are classified as class 2 misdemeanors.
  • Class 3 – Class 3 misdemeanors are the least serious misdemeanor offenses in North Carolina. Simple possession of marijuana is a class 3 misdemeanor.

If you are charged with a misdemeanor in a state court, you can expect your case to go through the district court system. In district court, if your case goes to trial, a judge, not a jury, will decide your case.

What is a Felony?

Felonies in North Carolina are divided into ten different categories. In order from most to least serious, they are A, B1, B2, C, D, E, F, G, H, and I. Here’s a look at some examples of each of these felony classes:

  • Class A – First Degree Murder is considered a class A felony in NC.
  • Class B1 – A few examples of class B1 felonies are first-degree forcible rape and first-degree statutory rape.
  • Class B2 – The conspiracy to commit a class A felony and second-degree murder are classified as B2 felonies.
  • Class C – Trafficking in heroin (in the amount of 28 grams or more) and first-degree kidnapping are considered class C felonies.
  • Class D – Examples of class D felonies include robbery and first-degree arson.
  • Class E – Assault with a deadly weapon and unlawful discharge of a firearm are class E felonies.
  • Class F – Failure to register as a sex offender and taking indecent liberties with children fall under this felony classification.
  • Class G – Class G felonies second-degree robbery and second-degree arson.
  • Class H – A hit and run that results in an injury and vehicle theft (through which you intended to deprive the owner of the car permanently) are classified as class H felonies.
  • Class I – Some marijuana possession charges are classified as class I felonies.

Unlike misdemeanor charges, felony charges could begin in a district court and move superior court after a waiver of probable cause or indictment by a grand jury. They involve a more complex court process. If your case goes to trial, a jury of 12 people will decide your case.

Expungement of Misdemeanors and Felonies

In North Carolina, you are permitted to seek the sealing or expungement for misdemeanor convictions under the following circumstances:

  • First-time misdemeanor convictions before you turned 18-years-old
  • First-time underage drinking conviction
  • Non-violent misdemeanors, after a five-year waiting period

It’s important to note that even if you and an expungement lawyer follow the proper petitioning procedures, your application may get denied. For most non-violent NC misdemeanor convictions, you must wait five years before you can petition the court for an expungement.

There are only a few circumstances under which you can petition to expunge a felony. You may petition the court to expunge a non-violent class I or H felony, or a first-time gang-related felony that you were convicted of before turning 18. Additionally, you may also seek a petition for a first-time, non-violent felony that occurred while you were a minor, and certain non-violent felonies committed at any age. In order to seek an expungement of a non-violent NC felony, you must wait 10 years until after you’ve completed your punishment and demonstrate a pattern of good behavior.

Contact a Charlotte Criminal Defense Attorney for Help

Regardless of whether you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor or felony, your future is at stake. Contact the skilled criminal defense lawyers at Randall & Stump, PLLC as soon as possible to learn more about your misdemeanor or felony charges moving forward. Contact us today at (980) 237-4579 to schedule an initial case evaluation.