Felonies -- Classes A, B1, B2, C, D, E, F, G, H, and I
There are ten classes of felonies in North Carolina that range from Class A,the most serious, to Class I, the least serious. You may benefit from reading through some of the materials provided by the court system. A Citizen's Guide to Structured Sentencing (Revised 2012) may be of some help to you in gaining some understanding of the thinking behind this system. Another resource that might be of some use is the Sentencing and Policy Advisory Commission's Structured Sentencing Training and Reference Manual that applies to offences committed on or after December 1, 2009, and the Supplement to that manual that applies to offenses committed on or after December 1, 2011. If you know the name of the offense you are charged with, or the statute number, you may be able to quickly find the class of the offense (which determines the sentencing authorized for a person found guilty of the offense) by checking a list of felony offenses is provided on the North Carolina Courts website as "Supplement 2 Felony Sentencing Classification" which shows the class of each crime listed. [ I am recently no longer able to provide a direct link to this document (apparently those guarding the information have determined too much traffic from this website?), so you will have to find your own way on the North Carolina Courts website to some variation of http://www.nccourts.org/Courts/CRS/Councils/spac/Sentencing/Training to the page buried deep in the labrynth where the "Citizen's Guide to Structured Sentencing" (currently a direct link is still available above) is found.] If you make it this far, you might wonder how many dozen citizens who aren't already lawyers may have ever managed to find this place. If you get there, select "Training and reference Manuals" and then select, "Structured Sentencing Training and Reference Manuals", and then you will be able to select, "Supplement 2: Felony Classification". This list does not include all crimes, and the names of the offenses may differ from what you have so it may be of limited use, but if you have a desire to find out what you can, here is a place to look. The offenses are in roughly numerical order by statute, but it should be easier to use the find function of your browser to scan the list for the name of the offense. Once you have confirmed that the charge is a felony and found what class the charge is, you can look at the Felony Sentencing Chart (Offenses committed after 12-1-09) and Felony Sentencing Chart (Offenses committed after 12-1-11) and see the sentence range is for each class of felony offense by prior record level. These charts are included in the above mentioned manuals, along with explanations of how they are used. To determine prior record level Form AOC-CR-600A the Worksheet for Determining Prior record Level (for offenses committed prior to December 1, 2009) or Form AOC-CR-600B the Worksheet for Determining Prior record Level (for offenses committed after December 1, 2009) may be useful if you have information on prior convictions, but as is often the case, there are important aspects of the law that you as a lay person are unlikely to be aware of that may make the accurate use of these tools difficult, if not impossible. For instance, convictions of multiple offenses on the same court date are only counted as one conviction for the most serious offense when determining prior record level. If you are determined and willing to take the time, the manuals mentioned above provide instructions on how to work through these issues.
PLEASE NOTE: This information is only being provided to assist you as a non-lawyer in getting some sense of the gravity of the charges you are researching and maybe a better feel for how the system operates on some levels. Even attorneys who spend most of their working lives keeping up with the changes in the laws and in attempting to apply the law to their clients' cases in the most advantageous ways have to work hard to keep up with all the possible remedies in every case. Sentences may run concurrently in some situations, but also may run consecutively, so that a conviction for multiple less serious charges could result in a longer sentence than that for a single more serious offense. Probation is authorized for many offenses at lower prior record levels, and plea agreements can result in much different results than the sentencing guidelines might indicate. Some offenses have mandatory prison terms even for first time offenders. The results of researching the charges with the resources provided here are more likely to give you an idea of the worst-case scenario in some cases, but will not provide you with other serious consequences of conviction, like sex offender registration, in other cases. Please keep in mind that there may be much more to your case than appears to you in looking through the sources available here.
I hope to continue to add some links and information on this site that might help you get a better idea of what you are dealing with, but there are so many potential issues that may affect the resolution of your particular case, and there are often other statutory and civil consquences that are not included in the criminal sentencing laws, that you should not consider anything you might find here or elsewhere online to be an adequate replacement for speaking with an attorney. There is no better or adequate alternative to skilled, experienced legal counsel. Look at these things for yourself, and then talk to a lawyer. Most criminal law attorneys provide free consultations. Call (252) 222-5252 to set up an appointment or send us an email by clicking on "Contact us" button above. PJC