In North Carolina, like most other states, there are two categories of criminal offenses, Misdemeanors and Felonies. Misdemeanors are generally less severe crimes and are punished under the North Carolina Structured Sentencing Act. In the structured sentencing guidelines, at the misdemeanor level, it sets the courts up to look at a persons prior criminal history. This is used to evaluate the person, and then place them in one of three different record levels. The more offenses that a person has committed will place them into the highest level,, while a person who has no prior convictions or very few will be placed into the lowest level. Misdemeanors are broken down into classes. The range of classifications is Class A1 to Class 3, where A1 is the most severe and 3 is the least. The range of punishments between the classes varies according to the record of the defendant , but generally, Class A1 misdemeanors can carry up to 150 days in jail, Class 1 misdemeanors can have up to 120 days in jail, Class 2 has a maximum of 60 days in jail, and Class 3 misdemeanors carry a maximum of 20 days in jail.
For felony sentencing defendants will be placed into one of six different levels based on their prior conviction record. Furthermore there are three ranges (mitigating, presumptive, and aggravating) dictating what the sentencing minimums and maximums for each Class of felony offense (from Class A to I). Felony punishments are severe in North Carolina and being charged with a felony, not only puts your immediate future in jeopardy, but possibly a lifetime of liberty.
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