North Carolina follows a strict set of “Classes” for every felony. Each offense in North Carolina has a specific, though broad, range of penalties, which anyone may want to understand in order to understand how the state streamlines its laws.
These felony “classes” can be divided into three primary sub-groups. These are:
Low level felonies may not carry mandatory jail time. Property-related crimes such as felony larceny, embezzlement and obtaining property via false pretenses can be considered low-level Class H or Class I felonies.
- Class H felony: 4 to 25 months
- Class I felony: 3 to 12 months
Mid-level felonies are comprised of some Class E, Class F or Class G felonies. These include violent assaults, involuntary manslaughter, and common-law robbery. These also carry the possibility of intensive probation. However, some convictions on these circumstances also have lengthy prison sentences.
- Class E felony: 15 to 63 months
- Class F felony: 10 to 41 months
- Class G felony: 8 to 31 months
High-level felonies are the worst kinds of felonies and are reserved for Class A, Class B1 or B2, Class C and Class D felonies. These include crimes such as arson, burglary, armed robbery, voluntary manslaughter and murder.
- Class A felony: death or life without parole
- Class B1 felony: 144 months to life without parole
- Class B2 felony: 94 to 393 months
- Class C felony: 44 to 182 months
- Class D felony: 38 to 160 months
Prior Record Level Ranges
Interestingly, for any felony offense other than Class A felonies, a North Carolina Court may also have to determine the convicted person’s prior criminal record level. These prior convictions are worth certain “points.”
The sum of these points determine the prior record level of the defendant, which can be from I to VI. Someone little or no prior criminal record may have I, while others with extensive criminal history will have a Level VI record.
The defendant is given points based on these criteria, based on each prior conviction:
- Each prior Class A felony conviction: 10 points
- Each prior Class BI felony conviction: 9 points
- Each prior Class B2, C, or D felony conviction: 6 points
- Each prior Class E, F, or G felony conviction: 4 points
- Each prior Class H or I felony conviction: 2 points
- Each prior misdemeanor conviction: 1 point
Afterwards, once one may add up all the prior convictions and determine how many points a person has. Therefore, one can determine that person’s prior record level:
- Level I: 0 to 1 point
- Level II: 2-5 points
- Level III: 6-9 points
- Level IV: 10–13 points
- Level V: 14–17 points
- Level VI: 18 or more points
A dispositional range is the potential length of a sentence a court that can impose for any given felony conviction. The court will have to use a person’s prior record level, the level of the felony convicted, and evaluate whether there are any aggravating or mitigating factors.
For each felony class in any prior record level, there are various dispositional ranges:
Presumptive ranges are the standard sentences for any felony conviction. This is the base range if there are no aggravated or mitigated circumstances.
Aggravated ranges are given if there are aggravating factors to present with the case. These include whether the defendant was hired to commit the crime, if the offense was heinous, atrocious or cruel, or if the victim was old or young.
Mitigated ranges include if the defendant supports his or her entire family, believed the conduct was legal, or has accepted responsibility for the criminal conduct.
Those who would like to know more about the specifics of crimes in North Carolina may contact lawyers and legal experts from nearby courts for consultations.
The judge will sentence the felon to a minimum and maximum sentence length. The minimum will fall somewhere in the determined sentencing range, while the maximum will be 20-percent longer than the minimum plus a period of post-release supervision.
However, not all felons are sentenced to prison time in North Carolina. These depend on the class of the felony and the felon’s prior record, the court can impose an active, intermediate, or community sentence.
Statute of Limitations
However, there are also statute of limitations that give prosecutors very limited amount of time to file criminal charges. Once someone commits a crime, prosecutors must file criminal charges within the legally established time limit. Unfortunately, once this is up, the state prosecutor cannot file criminal charges.
Although North Carolina is one of the very few states in the United States that do not impose such a time limit.