Surprising Comparisons of Classification Crime Classes in North Carolina

by | Jan 3, 2020 | Blog Posts, NC Criminal Defense | 0 comments

Surprising Comparisons Crime Classification in North Carolina – The severity of a crime depends on the Class the crime is categorized under, whether it is a misdemeanor, or a felony.  The higher the Class of crime, the more severe a punishment the defendant faces.  Like most aspects of criminal law, crime classification can be very confusing to someone who is not trained in these laws or does not deal with them on a regular basis.

What can be especially confusing is why some Classes are of crime are higher than others, without a clear reason.  We may not be able to understand that reasoning in some of North Carolina’s crime classification, but we are happy to point out some interesting ones.  In this blog, we will discuss some interesting crime classifications that may surprise people. Like all our blogs, this is intended for informational purposes only and not intended as a substitute for the advice and counsel of a criminal defense attorney.

It can be worse to threaten to hit someone than to actually hit them

In North Carolina, the crime of communicating threats is a Class 1 misdemeanor, yet simple assault is a Class 2 misdemeanor.  This means that in some cases, threatening someone is more serious then actually following through and hitting them.  This seems counter intuitive and it we can’t say we completely understand it. To make matters even more complicated, while simple assault requires in person, personal contact, communicating threats can be done via e-mail or text.  Meaning the more severe of these crimes can be done when the perpetrator is nowhere near the victim.

*The Misdemeanor sentencing guidelines would apply to these scenarios.

Not everyone you hit is treated equally

Another interesting nuisance of the classification of assault has to do with who the victim and the perpetrator are. Of course, the injury and the intent can factor into all assault charges but there are some interesting things that can happen with assault charges.

  • When a man hits a man, it can be simple assault (Class 2)
  • When a woman hits a man, it can also be simple assault (Class 2)
  • When a man hits a woman it’s assault on a female (Class A1)
  • When anyone hits a police officer it’s assault on a government official (Class A1)

These are examples where the same activity can be charged differently and having different consequences simply based on who is involved.

Sex crimes have a wide range of nuances

Sex crimes are complicated and have additional consequences other than what you would find in the sentencing guidelines.  It also has some nuances in how the crimes are charged that people may find very surprising. Here are just a couple of examples:

  • If a 15-year-old boy has “consensual” sex with a 30-year-old woman, that woman will be charged with statutory rape, which is a Class B1 felony.
  • If a 22-year-old man, holds down an 18-year-old woman and forces sex on her, he can be charged with a form of forcible rape that is only a Class B2 felony (less serious than statutory rape).

*These examples follow the felony sentencing guidelines.

You wouldn’t think that the “consensual” sex act would be punished more severely than the forcible rape, but it is.  There are also many other factors that matter in sex crimes that are too numerous to discuss in this blog, including but not limited to:

  • Age
  • Job
  • Family status
  • Relationship between the parties

Criminal law can be extremely complicated. If you have been charged with a crime in North Carolina or South Carolina and need an attorney, contact us.


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