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What Is a Criminal Record in North Carolina?
North Carolina criminal records are official documents providing details of criminal activities committed within the state. These documents are prepared by local and state law enforcement agencies, courts, and detention and correctional centers. Criminal records describe felonies and misdemeanors of alleged and convicted criminals as well as arrest, indictment, and conviction records.
What Is Contained in a Criminal Record?
A North Carolina criminal record contains the following information:
- Full name of the subject including known aliases
- Subject’s birth date, gender, race, and any other identifying personal data
- A set of fingerprints and a mugshot
- History of criminal offenses and indictments
- Past and outstanding warrants and arrest history
- Conviction records
What are Arrest Records?
North Carolina arrest records are official documentation of apprehensions and detentions. These records are prepared to provide details of the alleged criminal activities of arrested individuals. An arrest record does not mean the subject is guilty of a felony or misdemeanor described. It only provides proof that the individual was brought in for questioning and possible detained afterwards. A North Carolina arrest record contains the following information:
- The identity of the arrested individual i.e. subject’s name, sex, date of birth etc.
- The time and location of the arrests
- Details of the alleged offense informing the arrest
- The name of the arresting law enforcement officer
- Name and address of the county/city jail or state detention center where the subject is booked
What Is an Arrest Warrant?
In North Carolina, an arrest warrant is an official court document instructing a law enforcement officer to detain an individual within the jurisdiction of the state. Judges (and magistrate judges) sign and issue arrest warrants only when requesting law enforcement officers demonstrate probable cause. Arrest warrants give arresting officers the legal authority to detained individuals accused of alleged crimes whether they are guilty or not.
North Carolina law enforcement officers may arrest individuals without warrants only if they witnessed ongoing crimes and believe the arrested individuals are involved the them.
A North Carolina arrest warrant includes the following details:
- Full name and other personal identifying information of the subject
- Description of the alleged offense
- Where and when the arrest may happen
- Expiry date, if applicable
- Name of the warrant issuer and date of issue
What are Misdemeanors in North Carolina?
In North Carolina, misdemeanors are minor offenses punishable by up to 150 days of jail time or other community punishment. The state has four misdemeanor classes: A1, 1, 2, and 3. Class A1 misdemeanors are the most serious while Class 3 ones are the least serious.
- Class A1 misdemeanors in North Carolina are punishable by up to 150 days in jail and/or a fine amount decided by the court. Examples of Class A1 misdemeanors are assault with a deadly weapon, assault inflicting serious injury, assault on a state officer/employee, assault on a female, assault on a minor under the age of 12, and violation of a valid protective order
- Class 1 misdemeanors attract jail times up to 120 days in North Carolina. The court may also deem it necessary to fine the guilty party in any amount it finds satisfactory. Examples of Class 1 misdemeanors are breaking and entering, unauthorized use of a vehicle, larceny of property valued at $1,000 or less, possession of drug paraphernalia, and misrepresentation to obtain employment security benefits valued at $400 or less
- Class 2 misdemeanors are punishable by up to 60 days of jail time and up to $1,000 in fine. Examples of Class 2 misdemeanors in North Carolina are simple assault, battery, card fraud, indecent exposure, cyberstalking, resisting law enforcement officers, and disorderly conduct
- Class 3 misdemeanors are punishable by up to 20 days in jail and up to $200 in fine. Examples of offenses in this category are issuing a worthless check for $2,000 or less, failure to return rental property, intoxicated and disruptive in public, possession of 0.5 oz. or less of marijuana, possession of marijuana drug paraphernalia, and fishing/hunting without a license (when it is a first offense)
What are Felonies in North Carolina?
Felonies are more serious crimes and usually attract prison sentences. A North Carolina court may punish a less serious felony with community punishment. In such cases, the convicted individual may be instructed to pay a fine amount determined by the court. There are 10 felony classes in North Carolina. These goes from Class A to Class I with two types of Class B felonies (B1 and B2). Class A felonies are the most serious while Class I ones are the least serious.
- Class A felony punishable by death, or life with or without parole. First-degree murder is a Class A felony in North Carolina
- Class B1 felony punishable by 144 months to life without parole. Examples include second-degree murder and first-degree forcible/statutory rape/sexual offense
- Class B2 felony punishable by up to 484 months in prison. Second-degree murder is a Class B2 felony in North Carolina
- Class C felony punishable by up to 231 months in prison. Examples include second-degree forcible rape/sexual offense, first-degree kidnapping, assault, and embezzlement of $100,000 or more
- Class D felony punishable by up to 204 months in prison. Examples are voluntary manslaughter, burglary, arson, armed robbery, and child abuse involving serious injury
- Class E felony punishable by up to 88 months in prison. Examples are second-degree kidnapping, discharging a weapon into occupied property, assault a law enforcement officer with a firearm, and selling/delivering a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school
- Class F felony punishable by up to 59 months in prison. Examples are involuntary manslaughter, habitual impaired driving, patronizing a prostitute that is also a minor, and assault on a law enforcement officer
- Class G felony punishable by up to 47 months in prison. Examples are second-degree burglary and arson, common law robbery, identity theft, and possession of firearms by a felon
- Class H felony punishable by up to 39 months in prison. Examples are possession of stolen goods, assault by strangulation, hit and run, embezzlement involving less than $100,000, and escaping from a state prison
- Class I felony punishable by up to 24 months in prison. Examples are breaking and entering motor vehicles, card fraud, forgery of current notes, checks, and securities, and possession of cocaine/marijuana
North Carolina Sex Offender Listings
North Carolina sex offender listings are databases of registered sex offenders living in the cities, towns, and counties of the state. North Carolina sex offender legislation requires all convicted sex offenders to register at county level. County sheriffs maintain sex offender listings for their jurisdictions and send these to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety (NCDPS).
The NCDPS is required by law to compile, maintain, and update a North Carolina Sex Offender Registry. This statewide registry is available to the public and searchable online. The search tools provided on the online registry allows the public to find registered sex offenders by name, street address, zip code, latitude and longitude, and sex registration number.
North Carolina’s Megan’s Law
All states have a form of Megan's Law and create and maintain a sex offender registry. This database of of registered sex offenders is also available to the public. The first Megan's Law appeared after the rape and murder of 7-year-old New Jersey resident, Megan Kanka, by a sex offender who lived in the girl's own neighborhood. Soon after passage of this first Megan's Law, the federal government required all states to establish sex offender registries and make these publicly available. In North Carolina, the law applies to any person convicted of a reportable offense on or after January 1, 1996, or who is released from prison on or after that date. Failure to register is a crime.
What is a Serious Traffic Violation?
In North Carolina, the most common serious traffic violations include speeding, reckless driving, hit and run, and driving on a suspended or revoked license. Depending on the severity of the violation, offenders may be punished by jail time, fine, or a combination of both. North Carolina traffic tickets include court dates. Law enforcement officers issuing these tickets will note on them whether the traffic violation ticket is waivable. Offenders can pay tickets for waivable offenses online, in person at a courthouse, or by mail. North Carolina chief district judges review and publish annual lists of waivable traffic offenses.
North Carolina courts inform the state’s DMV of the outcomes of traffic violations whether they go to trial or offenders paid their tickets. North Carolina uses a point system for drivers’ records. Therefore, outcomes of traffic violations will accrue points on drivers’ licenses. After considering prior violations, the NC DMV can suspend offenders’ licenses. Traffic violations may also increase offenders’ auto insurance rates.
What are Conviction Records?
North Carolina conviction records are official court documents describing the indictments, pleas, hearings, and sentencing of individuals found guilty in criminal cases. Misdemeanor and felony trails may produce conviction records. Convictions are rendered by juries in jury trials and judges in non-jury trials. An individual’s conviction records will exclude final judgements removed by pardons. Judgements may also be missing if reversed or set aside.
What are Jail and Inmate Records
North Carolina jail and inmate records provide details of individuals incarcerated or booked into local jails and state prisons. These records identify inmates and provide information about their incarceration and eventual release. The North Carolina Department of Public Safety (NC DPS) oversees the operations of all state prisons. It has four regional offices and oversees the operations of 56 adult correctional centers and institutions in the state. The NC DPS provides an inmate locator on its website for finding inmates in state prisons and retrieving inmate records. Local jails in North Carolina are under the jurisdiction of sheriff’s offices and police departments. These local law enforcement agencies keep their own jail and inmate records.
Where to get Parole Information?
In 1994, the North Carolina General Assembly eliminated parole and replaced it with Structured Sentencing. Offenders who crimes were committed before October 1, 1994 are still eligible for parole. The state’s Structured Sentencing Act mandates offenders to serve at least 100% of the minimum sentences and 85% of their maximum sentences to be eligible for post-release supervision.
The North Carolina Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission determines the conditions necessary for post-release supervision for felons convicted after October 1, 1994 under the Structured Sentencing Act. To find information about inmates released under Structured Sentencing in North Carolina, use the NC DPS Offender Search tool.
What are Probation Records?
Probation records are official documents that provides details of convicted individuals serving their sentences outside of correctional and detention facilities. Probation is an alternative to prison and allows convicts in North Carolina to serve their suspended sentences out of custody, as long as they comply with probation conditions imposed by the judge and probation officer. Probation is issued in proportion to the crime, so the length and nature of probation differ (sometimes drastically) from case to case.
In North Carolina, there are two types of probation: supervised and unsupervised. Supervised probation requires reporting to a probation officer regularly and providing contact information and home address. Supervised parolees also have to follow certain rules regarding employment. Unsupervised parole has none of these restrictions.
What are Juvenile Criminal Records?
Juvenile criminal records are official records of criminal activities committed by minors who are not yet of legal adult age. Juveniles are not convicted of crimes like adults. The correct term used for convicted juveniles is “adjudicated delinquent.” While many believe that juvenile criminal records are expunged once a person becomes of legal adult age, these records remain unless the offender petitions to have them expunged.
If a person was found adjudicated delinquent to a criminal offense, they do not have to respond “yes” if asked whether they have ever been convicted of a crime, unless the question specifically asks if they were ever adjudicated delinquent as well. Although juvenile court hearings are open to the public in North Carolina, juvenile court records, including criminal records, are confidential. Only parties to the cases and their attorneys can access these records without court orders.
North Carolina History and Accuracy of Criminal Records
The veracity of North Carolina criminal records depends on the methods and means used by state and municipality law enforcement agencies and courts for collecting and storing those records. Some jurisdictions have digitized most of their old paper records. North Carolina criminal records archives usually tend to go back as far as the 1970s. This period coincides with the drive to compile criminal and arrest data into centralized database. While human error reduced record accuracy in the early days, records became more accurate in the 1990s as computer systems made recordkeeping easier and scalable.
How to Find Criminal Records in North Carolina
North Carolina criminal records are available in different state and county databases. These records are maintained by courts and law enforcement agencies. Most of them are accessible online and citizens can request for copies for nominal fees. The North Carolina Department of Public Safety provides statewide criminal histories and charges a $14 processing fee. To obtain criminal records at county level, contact the various County Clerks of Court.
The breadth of criminal records for North Carolina available at StateRecords.org varies from county to county. Available resources for accessing these records also depend on the presentation and organization of criminal records provided by the various jurisdictions and agencies in the state.