Felony – refers to a more technical term for a serious crime, while a misdemeanor is also a crime but not as serious as a felony. Both the terms are not to be confused with each other. When a person is found guilty of committing a felony in the court of law, he or she is then known as a convict or a felon. A felony may be defined as a crime which is punishable by either a prison sentence (of over a single year) or maybe even a death sentence. If the said crime is punishable with a sentence of a single year or less than that, it is called a misdemeanor.
Felonies include the following type of crimes (but are not confined to):
- Tax evasion
- Unintentional murder
- Drug related abuses
Typically speaking, felonies can be described as both violent and nonviolent. Violent felonies can be either a threat or an action revolving around the probability or possibility of severe physical and psychological trauma directed towards the victim. Whereas some nonviolent felonies are bank fraud, evasion of tax and copyright infringement.
Some crimes, though identical are classified as misdemeanors or felonies solely based on the state of affairs. For example; the manufacturing, possession, and/or handling of an illegal drug is regarded as a felony while the possession of some small amounts of the said drug is only a misdemeanor. Felonies can be punishable by a sentence of one or more than one years, or even a life sentence for the case of a more severe offense like murder, rape or terrorism.
Classes of Felonies
Felonies are known to be the most serious crimes, there are many different types and/or classes that felonies can be classified into. The penalties or punishments for these crimes vary largely depending on the circumstances involved. The penalties for felonies include; a prison sentence of a year or more, imprisonment for life without any parole, and maybe even a prison sentence till death.
In the United States, each state has its own set of rules dealing with the particulars of each crime and its penalty. Whether a crime is a misdemeanor or a felony differs from state to state, sometimes a crime which is considered to be a felony in one state is regarded as a misdemeanor in another state.
The many classes of felonies are as follows:
Note: Felonies are classified on the basis of the seriousness of the crimes and also the circumstances involved.
CLASS A or CLASS 1
These crimes are generally very atrocious in nature, and their penalties are also very serious. The sanctioned penalties for a felony of these classes are basically, a long prison term which may also include life without the chance of parole. Even fines ranging very high i.e, almost $150,000. The crimes which fall into this class are murder and rape, including some others as well.
CLASS B or CLASS 2
Class B/2 felonies are also still relatively serious crimes but not as serious as the ones mentioned above, felons who are convicted of these class B/2 felonies are often given penalties of a prison term of up to 60 years. In some states, these convicts can also face a life term with probation and also fines amounting to about $30,000. Class B felonies include; unintentional murder, kidnapping/abduction, conspiracy, and some others.
CLASS C or CLASS 3
Class C felonies are regarded as the least serious crimes in some states, while in other states these crimes carry severe penalties and punishments which include prison terms of upto 40 years or more, and fines of almost $100,000. Class C felonies generally consist of arson, burglary, sexual assault of second degree and many more.
The felonies that fall in this class are hit and run, persuasion and solicitation of a minor. Their punishments are of rather less severity, the penalties often include prison sentences of about 25 years and fines of up to $100,000 or more depending on a range of factors.
Class E felonies are very minimal as compared to the former classes of felonies, this particular class includes crimes ranging from assault to battery, and robberies to burglaries, including many more crimes of the same nature. The penalties include fines of $50,000 or more and a prison sentence of about 15 years.
As the classes keep going down, so do the levels of severity of the crimes.
The class in discussion, compromises of criminal offenses such as; theft, stalking and even sexual exploitation. The penalties of these crimes may be either a fine of about $25,000 or a prison term mounting to 12 years. Even both the penalties in some cases as well.
The crimes which lie in this class are fraud, theft and negligence leading to a homicide. These offenses aren’t very severe but still carry a hefty penalty. Such as a prison sentence of 10 years or more, and/or a fine of about $25,000 even more in some particular cases.
Class H crimes are of a lot less seriousness but still are felonies. The offenses which fall in this class are false imprisonment, theft and stalking as well. Felons are penalized accordingly, the penalties include; a 6 year prison sentence and also fines of about $10,000.
The crimes that fall into this category are of the least seriousness amongst all the former mentions, but still are to be regarded as felonies and not misdemeanors. Class I felonies consist of; theft, stalking, assault and possession of child pornography. The offenders may face penalties of up to $10,000 in fines and about a prison sentence of 3 or more years.
All the penalties mentioned above for all the particular classes are the general penalties for the said felonies. These penalties may vary from one convict to another convict. These punishments may be subject to increase or decrease depending on factors such as the circumstances and conditions of the crime, past history and character of the convict and some others factors.
Class D Felonies
Class D felonies generally vary from one state to another; there are certain levels of classifications used by the states. Alphabetical or numerical, Class D felonies are basically Level 4 felonies. These are serious felonies but not as serious as the former class felonies before it. Sometimes what a state might consider being a Class D/Level 4 felony may be a rather lower or upper class felony in another state such as a Class E or Level 5 felony, or a Class C or Level 3 felony. Penalties for these felonies can be either a one year sentence or even life sentence in prison depending on the particular circumstances. The penalties also include fines ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 depending on the nature of the felony and the state it has been committed in.
There are many consequences a person has to bear once convicted of a Class D felony. The consequences include many limitations one has to follow due to the crime committed, such as:
The loss of rights and benefits
A felon convicted of a Class D felony, generally loses many rights he or she is awarded by the state as a citizen. These rights include:
- Voting – A felon is no longer allowed to vote or contend in an election.
- Own or possess a weapon – The convicted person is stripped of his right to carry or buy a firearm due to his felonious nature.
- Jury duty – The convict can’t serve on jury duty, as a member of the jury because of his conviction.
- Have a profession – Convicts are no longer eligible for occupations such as a lawyer, accountant or a doctor. Basically the professions which require a state approved license in order for the person to start his or her practice.