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Are misdemeanors less serious? Not exactly.

On Behalf of | Jan 26, 2022 | Criminal Defense

It often seems that felonies are more serious than misdemeanors. Many people think this is true, especially since misdemeanor charges do not always involve jail time.

While misdemeanors may have less severe penalties than felonies, that does not mean they are not serious. Individuals should not underestimate the risks of facing misdemeanor charges.

Misdemeanors still pose a threat

Like felonies, North Carolina law divides misdemeanors into categories called classes. There are four classes:

  • Class A1, which are the most serious, and include stalking and child abuse
  • Class 1, which includes assault and battery or larceny
  • Class 2, which includes charges of disorderly conduct or hazing
  • Class 3, which includes charges such as shoplifting or violating court orders

The penalties for a Class 3 misdemeanor – the class often with the lesser penalties – could have consequences ranging from up to 30 days of community service to the maximum sentence of paying a $200 fine and spending 30 days in jail.

Prior convictions on one’s criminal record also influence the penalties of these charges, regardless of the class. Therefore, misdemeanors are not often as minor as many people might think.

Less severe penalties, same effects

The criminal penalties individuals face for a misdemeanor charge vary, but overall, they may seem less severe than a felony. However, the long-term effects of both misdemeanors and felonies often feel the same. A conviction still ends up on one’s criminal record, which can cause serious challenges in the future, including:

  • Losing job opportunities
  • Suspended driver’s licenses
  • Less housing opportunities
  • The risk of deportation

In fact, a 2014 article highlights the challenges one man faced with a misdemeanor charge on his record, and the obstacles he still faces today.

Any criminal charge could seriously impact one’s life and future. Therefore, any criminal charge must be taken seriously.