301.1Structured Sentencing

Felony Sentencing
Last Updated: 04/01/24

Key Concepts

  • All felonies committed on or after October 1, 1994, are sentenced according to the structured sentencing laws that were in effect at the time the offense was committed.
  • The court must determine where the defendant falls on the appropriate sentencing table (or “grid”) by finding the intersection of (i) the offense class and (ii) the defendant’s prior record level.
  • Next, the court considers whether any aggravating or mitigating factors apply, and whether the defendant should receive a sentence in the presumptive, mitigated, or aggravated range.
  • Finally, the court selects a minimum (and corresponding maximum) term of imprisonment to impose, chooses a disposition for the sentence (active, intermediate, or community punishment), and considers any other relevant sentencing issues such as fines, restitution, and credit for time served.

To review the various sentencing tables and their effective dates, see the related entry on Sentencing: Felony Sentencing Grids.

For a list of felony offense classes, see the related entry on Sentencing Appendices: Felony Offense Class Table.

For a list of all aggravating factors, see the related entry on Sentencing Appendices: Aggravating Factors.

For a list of all mitigating factors, see the related entry on Sentencing Appendices: Mitigating Factors.

To calculate a felony sentence using the app developed by James Markham and Steve Winsett, see here for desktop or here for mobile.

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The PDF displayed in this entry is an excerpt from the 2018 North Carolina Sentencing Handbook, by James M. Markham and Shea Riggsbee Denning.