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What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony charge?

On Behalf of | Apr 27, 2023 | Misdemeanors

Criminal offenses in North Carolina generally fall into one of two categories: felonies and misdemeanors. While all crimes are considered serious, felony charges often result in more serious penalties than misdemeanor charges.

Misdemeanor charges

Misdemeanors are categorized into four classes: Class 3, Class 2, Class 1, and Class 1A, with Class 1A being the most serious. Here are some examples of North Carolina misdemeanors in each class:

  • Class 3:Simple possession marijuana (less than 0.02 ounces) or shoplifting.
  • Class 2: Simple assault, reckless driving, or disorderly conduct.
  • Class 1: Larceny or breaking and entering.
  • Class 1A: Assault with a deadly weapon or sexual battery.

The penalties for a misdemeanor may include up to 150 days in jail, fines, and community service.


Felonies in North Carolina can be classified as lower-level, mid-level, or high-level.

  • A lower-level felony may result in up to 39 months in prison, depending on whether it is classified as Class H or Class I. Some examples of lower level include first-degree forgery, breaking or entering a motor vehicle, and marijuana possession.
  • A mid-level felony may result in up to 88 months in prison, depending on whether it is a Class E, F, or G. Some examples of a mid-level felony include common-law robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, or child abuse.
  • A high-level felony may result in up to 484 months, the death penalty, or life without parole, depending on whether it is classified as Class A, B1, B2, C, or D. Examples of a high-level felony include first-degree murder, armed robbery, and first-degree kidnapping.

If you have been charged with a misdemeanor and felony, a criminal defense attorney can help come up with an effective defense strategy.