What Is a Felony?

felony definition types classes and sentencing
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A felony is generally considered a crime that ends in imprisonment for one year or more. A felony is also considered the most severe type of crime. It usually includes some element of violence and harmful to society. Crimes such as arson and first-degree murder fall under the category of a felony. Not all states use the same definition for a felony. Some states are less strict about the definition of a felony. To find out the exact rules for the state in which you live, contact a lawyer with extensive experience handling felony offensesThere are lesser offenses than a felony. They are considered citations and misdemeanors. If the crime is considered violent or someone was hurt during the crime, it is more likely to be considered a felony. If the accused is a repeat offender, the person is more likely to face a more serious sentence.

What are the Classes of a Felony?

In general, you can expect to receive a sentence of more than one year for a felony. This time may be served in federal or state prison. Felonies are broken down and classified based on how serious the crime committed is. Crimes that typically fall under the category of felony include rape, murder, burglary, arson, and kidnapping. The punishment associated with a felony is intended to match the severity of the crime.

Class A or Class 1 felony usually carries a sentence of life in prison or the death penalty. In some states, first-degree murder is considered a class a (or 1) felony.

Class B or Class 2 felony carries a sentence of 25 or more years in prison.

Class C or Class 3 felony carries a sentence of more than ten years but less than 25 years in prison.

Class D or Class 4 felony carries a sentence of more than five years but less than ten years in prison.

Class E or Class 5 felony carries a sentence of more than one year but less than five years in prison.

What Crimes May Be Considered a Felony?

In general, there are some crimes that are considered felonies. They include:

Assault – this is when someone attempts to inflict violence on another person with the intention of hurting them. This includes the threat of doing harm to them.

Domestic Violence – this crime can take on many forms. Domestic violence may include physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and physical aggression. This crime applies to anyone living in the same household and is not limited to only spouses.

Crimes Involving Drugs – the classification of crimes involving drugs determines how the amount of the drugs and the intent. For example, if a large amount of drugs are found, then the person may be trafficking the drugs with an intent to sell them.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) – this is not a felony unless someone was injured by the DUI or it becomes a repeat offense.

Kidnapping – this is a general description of someone being held or kept against their will, usually for some type of payment. Kidnapping can also occur when a parent does not have custodial rights and is holding their child.

Manslaughter – there are two categories of manslaughter. One is involuntary manslaughter, which is when an accident occurs, and someone dies. This could be due to negligent activity such as driving while intoxicated. The other is voluntary manslaughter. This felony occurs when someone is killed after an argument.

Murder – there are two categories of murder. One is first-degree murder, which means there was intent to kill and premeditation. The other is second-degree murder which means that a murder occurred during another crime, like when someone is killed during a break-in.

Arson – this is when someone sets fire to a property or building for some illegal reason, such as an insurance claim. Setting a fire in the wild is also considered arson.

Fraud – the most severe type of fraud there is, is felony fraud. Felony fraud happens when there is a large sum of money or a government agency involved.

What Dictates the Sentencing of a Felony?

There are many factors that go into the sentencing for the conviction of a felony. In some cases, the judge may give a lesser sentence for a first time offender, and the crime was not violent. On the opposite side of that, a judge may be more likely to impose a stricter sentence for a repeat offender to there was deadly harm committed during the felony. In addition, it is possible that a person charged with a felony may be able to present a defense that can get their sentence reduced. For example, if someone is charged with felony assault, if the victim participated in the act and it can be proven, the sentence may be able to be reduced.

Depending on the state in which the felony occurred, that can impact the sentencing that the person receives. Each state may have its own factors that dictate the sentence associated with the charge. In addition to criminal charges, the person can face civil charges. That could increase the amount of fines that must be paid. If the victim is injured, the accused may have to pay for lost wages, medical bills, pain, and suffering.

Do I Need an Attorney?

If you are facing any type of felony charges, you should consider contacting an attorney for assistance. A criminal defense attorney understands the laws and rules in the state in which you live. That attorney is able to explain the charges and the consequences if you are convicted. An attorney can help you determine what steps you should take next. When you go to court, you need to file documents and prepare your case. Your attorney can help you and provide representation in court. You may have a higher chance of being convicted if you do not have an attorney. The attorney may be able to get your sentence reduced.

Marc D. Wolfe

Marc Wolfe has been representing clients in criminal matters in Woodridge, Chicago, and across the state of Illinois for over 30 years now. Marc has tried well over 300 cases to verdict and represents those who face prosecution or investigation for a wide range of federal and state criminal offenses, including murder, embezzlement, white collar crimes, drugs and sexual abuse.

Comments 1

  1. Tiff Gregers says:

    Thank you for discussing what a felony is and the details about jail time. I am being taken to court for something I didn’t do this month. I will find a great criminal defense lawyer to help me nearby.

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