Misdemeanor Defense

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Under North Carolina Law, a misdemeanor is defined as “any crime other than a felony.” That definition provides zero help to understanding a misdemeanor charge. Below are some commonly asked questions and answers to help you understand more about a misdemeanor charge.

What is a misdemeanor?
A misdemeanor is a crime in which the maximum punishment a court may impose is typically under 1 year. A misdemeanor will most often be before a District Court, and may result in fines, community service, probation,and/or imprisonment. North Carolina law classifies various crimes as different level misdemeanors.

What is a Level A1, 1, 2, or 3 Misdemeanor?
In North Carolina, there are four levels of misdemeanors, ranging from Class A1 to Class 3. The classification is determined by the maximum punishment the Court may impose.

What is the punishment for a misdemeanor?
The maximum sentence for the crime will depend on the level of the offense and other factors, such as the prior offenses of the defendant. During the sentencing phase, the Judge will use a grid chart, based upon aggravating and mitigating factors to determine the severity of the punishment. The chart looks like this:

NC Misdemeanor Sentencing Chart

What are examples of misdemeanors?
There are hundreds of different crimes that North Carolina defines as a misdemeanor. Examples offenses include:
  • Class A1 Misdemeanors:
    Typically includes aggravated assault charges.
  • Class 1 Misdemeanors:
    Breaking and Entering, Domestic Abuse, Larceny and Writing Bad Checks.
  • Class 2 Misdemeanors:
    Assault, Disorderly Conduct and Carrying a Concealed Weapon W/out a Permit.
  • Class 3 Misdemeanors:
    Various Hunting and Fishing Violations, Driving While License Revoked, and Drug Charges

Do I need a lawyer for a misdemeanor?
A misdemeanor arrest is a very big deal. A conviction for a misdemeanor crime in North Carolina can have significant affects on your life. The Courts can impose heavy fines, revoke privileges such as hunting or driving licenses; and may even impose active imprisonment. A conviction can also stay on your criminal record, and may hurt your career and housing opportunities.

A criminal defense lawyer knows the law, and will fight for to protect your rights. At Dugan & Leger, we investigate each case to determine which defenses to misdemeanor crimes are available to you, and to ensure your Constitutional rights were not violated. We will then fight for you, every step of the way.

Will the Court appoint a lawyer for me?
The courts may or may not appoint a criminal defense attorney. Often, the Court will not appoint a criminal defense attorney to represent you if your charges will not likely result in an active jail sentence. However, jail is only one part of the problem with a misdemeanor arrest. Having a lawyer will protect your rights.

What to look for when hiring a lawyer?
Hiring a lawyer to defend you is a major decision. There are many lawyers to choose from. When deciding to hire a lawyer, you should find an attorney who you:

  • Feel comfortable with
  • Feel secure knowing the attorney will competently fight for you
  • Can rely on to answer your calls and questions &
  • You can afford
How much does a criminal defense attorney charge?
 Lawyers will charge anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars to represent you. Every case is different, and the amount of money the lawyer will charge depends on a variety of factors, such as the charges you have, your past criminal history, and the facts of your case.
Some lawyers will charge you by the hour, billing you for every 1/10th of a minute they spend working on your case. This means every phone call, every e-mail, every court appearance is charged to the client. Other lawyers will offer a flat-rate, which provides you with a set price to represent you.

The age old saying that you get what you pay for is not always true. More experienced attorneys may charge more than younger attorneys, and not provide any greater defense. Likewise, some younger attorneys will charge less per hour, and then spend more time completing a task


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