Misdemeanor crimes cover all sorts of behavior, most non-violent. For example, in 2019, the UNC School of Government Blog reported that only 6.66% of misdemeanor charges were violent offenses. Most of the remaining charges were DWI and non-DWI traffic charges. Other common misdemeanor crimes in NC in 2019 included ordinance crimes such as:

  • An open container of alcohol
  • Failure to provide proof of fare
  • Begging

Individuals often engage in non-violent criminal behavior without realizing they’ve broken the law. You may wonder if you can go to jail for a misdemeanor. Let’s look at when you can face misdemeanor charges and how those charges might affect you. 

Common Misdemeanors

North Carolina determines misdemeanor behavior based on its class. Class 3 is the least serious class of misdemeanors. Class 3 misdemeanor behavior can sometimes occur without you knowing you’ve done anything wrong. Paying attention to local ordinances can help you avoid this type of misdemeanor. NC Courts has a complete list online of possible misdemeanor offenses, but some of the more common offenses are listed below.

Class 3 Misdemeanors include:

  • Riding on a train unlawfully
  • Punishment for issuing fire policies contrary to law
  • Violation of registration provisions (giving/lending license plate for use on a motor vehicle other than that for which issued).
  • Penalty for making false statements about the transfer of a vehicle.
  • Unlawful to drive while license revoked or while disqualified (license not revoked for impaired driving).
  • Computer trespass
  • Intoxicated and disruptive in public
  • Parking vehicle in private parking space without permission.
  • Injuring notices and advertisements
  • Throwing, dropping, etc., objects at sporting events
  • Unlawful to pollute any bottles used for beverages. 
  • Making false ambulance request.
  • Using profane or indecent language on public highways

Class 2 Misdemeanors Include:

  • Intimidation of voters by officers
  • Signing the name of another to a petition.
  • Disruptions of official meetings.
  • Notice and confinement of biting animals (failure to confine an animal). 
  • Promise or threat to obtain political contribution or support.
  • Misrepresentation of brands for sale.
  • Advertisement of drug paraphernalia.
  • Operating a boat or manipulating water skis, etc., in a reckless manner; operating, etc., while intoxicated, etc.; depositing or discharging litter, etc. (operation of a motor vessel while under the influence of an impairing substance/DWI). 
  • Nonsupport of illegitimate child by parents
  • Standing, sitting, or lying upon highways or streets.
  • Unlawful use of a mobile phone.

Class 1 Misdemeanors include:

  • Violations of a Stop order
  • Jailer injuring a prisoner
  • Fraudulent misrepresentation: a person receives housing assistance not more than $400
  • Removing notice from a condemned building.
  • Disorderly conduct in and injury to public buildings and grounds. 
  • Injury to water supply
  • Perjury
  • Offenses to clients receiving treatment in a 24-hour mental health/substance abuse facility
  • Unlawful use of firearms

Class A1 Misdemeanors Include:

  • Patronizing a prostitute (first violation).
  • First-degree trespass
  • Stalking (first offense)
  • Child abuse
  • Unlawful transfer of custody of minor child
  • Concealment of death
  • Assaulting by pointing gun 

Consequences of Committing a Misdemeanor

You may face consequences based on the violation class and criminal level if you’ve committed a misdemeanor. The state categorizes misdemeanors by classes.

Class 3 contains minor offenses and while class A1, the most heinous misdemeanors. A class 3 Misdemeanor can bring you 1-30 days community, intermediate, or active punishment such as jail. However, a Class 2 misdemeanor can bring you up to 60 days, Class 1 up to120 days, and Class A1 up to 150 days.

Additionally, the punishment you may face also depends on your level of previous criminality. The levels include Level I which means you have no prior convictions. Level II is 1-4 prior convictions, while level III means you have 5 or more previous convictions.

For example, you can usually avoid any active jail time if you only have 0-3 prior convictions with a class 3 misdemeanor. In this case, you may only pay a fine. Maximum fines per class include:

  • Up to $200.00 fine for a class 3 misdemeanor
  • Maximum $1000 fine for class 2 misdemeanor. 
  • The amount of fine for Class 1 misdemeanor or Class A1 misdemeanor is at the discretion of the court.

You Can Clear a Criminal Record

If your criminal record is nonviolent, you can usually apply for an expungement of a misdemeanor from your record five years after you’ve served any sentences or probation. Here are some examples of misdemeanor crimes that are usually successfully expunged after the waiting period:

  • Traffic misdemeanors
  • Identity theft
  • Petty theft
  • Marijuana possession 
  • Underage possession of alcohol 
  • Property damage
  • Charges that did not bring a conviction

North Carolina law does not expunge assault or DWI convictions. 

We Can Help

If you’ve committed a misdemeanor and face criminal charges, contact us at Hopler, Wilms, and Hanna. Our experienced criminal legal team works with misdemeanor crimes to fight for your rights. We look at your case from every angle, determining if your rights were violated, the integrity of the evidence, and whether there are other legal defenses. Misdemeanors often are not willful, intentional crimes. We help you navigate the court system and come out with a plan to move forward. Contact us and find out how we can help. 


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