North Carolina has established a method of sentencing called “structured sentencing” that provides reasonable predictability as to what a sentence will likely be.
Misdemeanors are grouped by 4 classes: Class A1, 1, 2, and 3, with a Class 3 being the least serious, and Class A1 being the most serious. Each of these classes carry a sentencing range based off of the “level” of the Defendant. Defendants are assigned a “level” based off the number of prior convictions the defendant has received. There are three levels: Level 1, 2, and 3, with 3 being the most serious (5 or more convictions, generally), and 1 being the least serious (no prior convictions at all).
Judges have absolute discretion in regards to the sentences they hand down, so long as the sentence is within the range allowed. For example, if you were charged with second degree trespass, a class 3 misdemeanor, and had never been convicted of any other crime, the maximum that a judge could sentence you is 10 days of community punishment. Alternatively, if you have been charged with Assault on a Female (a class A1 misdemeanor), and have had 5 or more other convictions—regardless of class—you could be sentenced up to 150 days in jail.
Depending on the class of the misdemeanor and your individual sentencing level, you can be sentenced to one of three categories: an active sentence, intermediate punishment, or community punishment. An active sentence means time in jail (which is different than prison!) Intermediate punishment is supervised probation and one or more special conditions like house arrest, intensive probation, or referral to drug treatment court. Community punishment is basically a non-active sentence that doesn’t require any of the provisions or an intermediate sentence. Community punishment is often simply unsupervised probation along with some community service.
If you’ve been charged with a criminal offense, it is crucial that you speak with an experienced lawyer as soon as possible, so that you can develop a plan for how to defend yourself against these charges. Minick Law’s criminal defense attorney’s are here to help, and are standing by to assist you with your case. Contact Us Today, for a FREE CONSULTATION.