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What Is A Felony in North Carolina?

While most people have heard the word ‘felony,’ it’s sometimes difficult to comprehensively understand what a felony fully encompasses. By definition, a felony is a crime that’s based on previous judicial outcomes and punishable by imprisonment at a state level. However, there are nuances to this definition. Let’s break down how they’re categorized and what a felony means in North Carolina specifically.

The NC Felony Sentencing Chart

North Carolina uses a grid-like sentencing chart to determine felony sentencing. This includes:

1. The Class of Felony

In North Carolina, there are ten main categories of felonies. They’re categorized alphabetically, in descending order of severeness and make up the y-axis of the sentencing chart. There are general punishment timeframes for each category, but these can become even longer or shorter based on the next two factors we’ll cover. 

Categories include: 

  • Class A (death or life without parole) to Class D felonies (38-160 months):

These classes include the most heinous violent and sexual crimes but can cover unlawful use of weapons of mass destruction.

  • Class E (15-63 months), Class F (10-41 months) and Class G felonies (8-31 months):

This encompasses a wide range of potential sentences, with some of the associated crimes having mandatory minimum sentences. They include everything from child abuse to assault with a deadly weapon. 

  • Class H felonies (4-25 months) and Class I felonies (3-12 months):

Class H includes everything from first-degree forgery to possessing stolen goods. Class I felonies range from breaking or entering a car to check forgery.

2. The Person’s Prior Convictions/Criminal Record

Each prior conviction on someone’s criminal record will have an associated point value. Adding these together determines the prior record level, ranging from I to VI, which is displayed on the x-axis of the sentencing chart. The general range of a sentence is determined by where this number and the class of the felony intersect. Class A felonies are the only category that do not account for this.

3. The Disposition Range

The disposition range consists of three categories and also contributes to the length of a sentence. It’s broken down on the top-right of the sentencing chart

  • The presumptive range includes crimes being considered for a standard length of sentencing.  
  • The aggravated range encompasses crimes that are considered notably evil, such as crimes committed against children.

The mitigated range is usually applied to crimes that are deemed “unintentional” and can warrant a shorter sentence.

What Happens to First-Time Felony Offenders in NC?

It’s contingent on the severity of the offense. Most low-level, first-time offenders can go through a diversion program, like North Carolina’s First Offenders Program. These programs offer an alternative to jail time by providing the option of schooling, work, rehab/drug testing and more. Generally, they’re education or rehabilitation centric. Successfully completing a diversion program can eliminate jail time and remove the offense from a criminal record.

Manning Law Knows Felonies

Manning Law attorneys are experts with the ins-and-outs of felonies in North Carolina. Get the best defense against fines, life restrictions and even prison time by contacting us now!