A felony is known to be the most serious of all crimes as the jail sentencing can range from two years to death sentence. However, since concept of law is different for different countries, the definition of a second degree felony, general sentencing and the intensity of the second degree felony crime is very relative to each country. A general definition however is that it is a major crime which may be punished with fine or imprisonment and is much intense as compared to misdemeanors. There are four basic categories of felonies:
1. Capital offense- serious murder
2. First degree- rape, murder, child kidnapping, aggravated robbery or burglary or arson, and possession of a substance which is intended to be sold near a school.
3. Second degree- robbery, manslaughter, kidnapping, residential burglary, perjury, forging checks worth $5000 or more, auto theft, forcible sexual abuse, intentional child abuse and theft of property which is worth $5000 or more.
4. Third degree- theft of items worth more than $1000 but less than $5000, burglary of non-dwelling, aggravated assault, forging checks worth more than $1000 but less than $5000, joyriding for more than 24 hours, possession and distribution of marijuana, possession of some other controlled substance, 3rd DUI in 10 years, and forged or false prescription.
MINIMUM AND MAXIMUM SENTENCES
Every state differs on whether to include a probable punishment in prison of up to 10 or 12 years. Most states however have a probable punishment in prison of up to 10 or 12 years. For example, Ohio has a ceiling of 9 years and no more in prison, and Pennsylvania has a ceiling for penalty which is 10 years in prison for 2nd degree felony. The by default sentencing in Texas is a bit more strict, ranging from 2 to 20 years in state prison. In addition to imprisonment, all states also impose fines which may be handed out by the judge who is issuing a penalty sentence for 2nd degree felony. In New Jersey, fines for 2nd degree felony can be as high as $150,000.
Even though the exact sentencing structure is different for every state, all of them allow for enhanced penalties due to a number of factors such as prior conviction, use of a firearm, violent crimes, and other aggravating sentences. For example, in Texas, if there is a prior second degree felony conviction, the judge might consider giving out the second highest sentencing range. Moreover in Pennsylvania, sentencing structure for a second degree felony such as conviction for aggravated battery increases to a minimum of ten years instead of 10 years, if there is a previous violent crime conviction. If there are 2 prior violent convictions of felony, the penalty range may increase to a minimum of 25 years in state prison.
LOSS OF BENEFITS AND RIGHT
In most states, as soon as you’re convicted with committing a second degree felony, you will immediately lose the following rights:
2. serve on a jury
3. hold state office
4. possess or own a weapon
5. enroll in armed services
6. Work in occupations such as medicine, or any other which requires a federal or state license.
However in most states such as New Mexico, the right to vote is restored automatically once the sentence has completed, including and probation or parole obligations. In other states, a set aside or pardon known as Expungement from government is required if a crime committer wants other civil rights restored.
HOUSING AND EMPLOYMENT WITH FELON RECORDS
In almost every state in the US, it is difficult for people with second degree felony convictions to own a house or get a job. No state stops the landlord or employer from searching the past criminal record of a prospect employee or tenant. Moreover, federal or state programs that tend to include tax credit before hiring felons offer a lot of assistance.
CLEARING YOUR RECORDS
For a second degree felony conviction, it is very difficult to expunge past criminal records. New Mexico for example does not even grant Expungement if a person is involved in felony conviction. However in Pennsylvania it is possible to attain Expungement for those people who are 70 years of age or older and have a clean criminal record for the past 10 years. In Texas on the other hand, anyone with a possible felony conviction may ask for a pardon. In New Jersey, a felony conviction can attain Expungement after a certain waiting period after the completion of 2nd degree felony sentence. The Expungement applicant has to wait for a minimum of about 10 years and should only have a single felony conviction on her or his record. Pardon from the government is also available in certain US states. According to the general process of attaining pardon an application will go through the states pardon board and only a handful of the applicants will be granted pardon in a year by the government, so is the case with almost all US states where pardons for felony conviction are available.
GRADING A SENTENCE
A lot of different factors come into play when determining the sentence grade for the second degree felony. In Pennsylvania Guidelines for sentencing, each offence is assigned an OGS, offense gravity score. This OGS is represented by a quantity and the more serious the offence the higher the OGS. Before sentencing you, the judge will take into account your OGS calculation and your prior criminal record if you have one. The lower the OGS score, the fewer will be your prior convictions, and the shorter your guideline sentencing. Trial judges in Pennsylvania also have a decision and sometimes decide to deviate from guidelines due to certain mitigating or aggravating factors.
EFFECTS ON OUR RIGHT TO BARE ARMS
In some states, the conviction of second degree felony that relate to assault or violence may negatively affect the crime-committers future right to hold arms and ammunition. Examples of such felonies include sexual abuse, robbery and criminal charges filed as a result of violating a restraining or protective order. Some state’s municipalities allow the defendant to re-apply to obtain a gun permit if a sufficient period of time has passed by since the time of conviction.
HOW CAN A LAWYER HELP
Your lawyer will fully explain to you your charges and prepare a strong defense and look for certain mitigating factors that many have a positive effect on sentencing. Your lawyer will work with you to determine the best course of action.
STATUTE OF LIMITATION
These are time limits during which State has to begin the criminal prosecution or else the defendant can easily have the case dismissed. Statute of limitation starts immediately when the crime is committed. Usually the more serious the crime, the longer the statute of limitation and extremely serious crimes that fall in the category of capital offence for example murder, has no statute of limitation.
In some cases committers of 2nd degree felony have the right to apply to have their conviction removed from their permanent criminal records if a sufficient amount of time has passed by. This process is known as Expungement. The two requirements of obtaining Expungement is that the person must have a clean criminal record and must also successfully complete the mandatory waiting period which is approximately 10 to 15 years.