What Can You Expect If Convicted Of An NC Sex Offense?

It's no secret that sex offenses are investigated, prosecuted and sentenced aggressively in North Carolina and at the federal level. Anyone being investigated for an alleged sex crime should contact a defense lawyer immediately, even if charges have not yet been filed. The consequences of a sex offense charge are steep - the public often rushes to blame the accused; the consequences of a sex crime conviction are much worse - involving substantial potential prison time and sex offender registry requirements.

Who Must Register As A Sex Offender In North Carolina?

North Carolina requires that individuals who are convicted of certain sex offenses as well as certain criminal offenses involving minors to register and comply with the North

Carolina Sex Offender and Public Protection Registration Programs.

Convictions for sexually-based offenses that will trigger registration requirements include, among others:

  • First or second degree rape, statutory rape
  • First, second degree sexual offense
  • First degree, second or third degree sexual exploitation of a minor
  • Participating in or promoting prostitution of a minor
  • Rape of a child, sexual offense with a child
  • Sexual battery
  • Incest
  • Felony indecent exposure
  • Indecent liberties with a child or student
  • Attempted sexually violent offense
  • Solicitation of a minor
  • Possession, production or distribution of child pornography

Registration requirements will last for a period of years - 30 - or for the life of the person required to register, depending on the circumstances of the crime and the actual charge of which he or she is convicted.

Felony Sentencing For Sex Offense Convictions

Sex offenses, along with all other North Carolina criminal offenses, are given a felony class level by the legislature when a law making a specific action criminal is passed. The maximum prison sentence that can be expected under the North Carolina structured sentencing guidelines depends on the felony class level of which a person is convicted.

Below is a chart of the most common sexually-based offenses and their corresponding felony class level in North Carolina.




  • First degree rape
  • Rape of a child
  • Statutory rape if the minor is 13, 14 or 15 and you are more than 6 years older
  • First degree forcible sex offense
  • Sexual offense of a child


  • Attempted rape


  • Second degree rape
  • Statutory rape if the minor is 13, 14 or 15 and you are more than 4 but less than 6 years older
  • Second degree forcible sex offense


  • First degree sexual exploitation of a minor


  • Child molestation


  • Second degree sexual exploitation of a minor


  • Third degree sexual exploitation of a minor

The structured sentencing guide provides both the minimum and maximum sentence for felony level offenses in North Carolina. Felony sex crimes, which include all criminal sex offenses other than sexual battery in North Carolina, that also require sex offender registration are subject to enhanced sentencing. The maximum sentence for any sex crime classed as a B1 - E level felony and subject to the sex offender registry requirement is calculated by starting with the minimum sentence, adding 20 percent of the minimum sentence rounded to the higher month and tacking on an additional 60 months.

Consequences of being convicted of an NC sex offenseFor example, the presumptive minimum sentence for a Class C felony for an individual with no prior criminal history is 58-73 months according to the felony structured sentencing grid. The corresponding maximum penalty is 82-100 months. However, a Class C felony sex offense with the same minimum penalties of 58-73 months will instead be subject to a potential maximum prison sentence of 130-148 months.

Post Release Supervision For Felony Sex Offenders

North Carolina requires all convicted felony offenders to spend a certain amount of time on post release supervision (PRS). For felony sex offenses, this period is set by statute at five years. The five years of PRS accounts for the addition of 60 months added on determining the maximum potential sentence for a specific sex crime.

In addition to PRS, convicted felony sex offenders may be subject to GPS monitoring for a term of years to life after completing any required prison time.

If you are being investigated for a sex crime - from sexual battery to rape - there are long-term, far-reaching consequences on the line if you are convicted. There is no substitute for an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side if you have been accused of sexual assault, statutory rape or taking indecent liberties. Contact a sex crimes defense lawyer in your area as soon as you know that you are being investigated for criminal sexual conduct, have been falsely accused of a sex offense or have been arrested and charged with a sex crime.

Roberts Law Group Logo Thumbnail

North Carolina vs. M.W.
Charge: Charge: Robbery with A Dangerous Weapon (4 Counts), First Degree Burglary, Conspiracy to Commit Robbery with A Dangerous Weapon
Facing: 12 - 17 years in prison
Result: Dismissed

An incarcerated defendant accused our client of participating in the robbery of a group of youth at a party. We were able to raise doubt as to the credibility of this individual. In the end, the prosecutor dismissed these charges, citing a lack of evidence.