Criminal offences are classified into two: misdemeanours and felonies. Misdemeanours are low-level offences punishable by smaller fines or a possible jail term of no more than one year. Conversely, felonies are more serious crimes and can carry hefty fines and prolonged incarceration in state prison.
Definition Of Felony
A felony is a more serious offence compared to a misdemeanour. An individual found guilty of committing a felony may face a prison term of a year or more. However, even if the defendant is sentenced to less than a year of imprisonment, the crime is still considered a felony, depending on its nature and intentions.
A defendant convicted of a felony may suffer other consequences besides incarceration. For example, convicted felons may lose some basic civil rights, such as the right to vote, perform jury duty, hold public office, or travel to another country. Additionally, they may experience challenges finding a job or renting a house.
If you’re charged with a felony and need to clear your name or reduce the charges, you need the help of an experienced lawyer who specializes in criminal law. You may consider referring to this guide to help you choose the best criminal law services.
Common Types Of Felony
Most crimes against property and individuals fall under felonies. The most common felonies include:
Property crimes are crimes involving property instead of individuals. Such crimes include vehicle theft, burglary, arson, and vandalism. An individual found guilty of such offences may be ordered by the court to pay penalties depending on the value of the stolen or destroyed property.
In most cases, the felony threshold doesn’t surpass the USD$1,000 mark. An individual convicted of a property crime may face a prison term of a year or more in addition to restitution.
While some drug-related crimes are considered misdemeanours, most are classified as felonies. For instance, a defendant found guilty of selling drugs may be sentenced to four years in prison.
Also, a person who confesses to transporting drugs may be charged with a felony. If convicted, the offender may face up to five years of imprisonment.
On the other hand, an adult who sells drugs or uses a minor to sell or transport drugs may be sentenced to nine years in prison. And finally, if the defendant is convicted of selling drugs in public places, both the seller and the buyer may face additional penalties aside from imprisonment.
Violent crimes include murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, sexual assault, and robbery. Robbery is classified as a violent crime if the victim sustains physical injuries.
For violent crimes, the penalties can be more severe depending on the nature and gravity of the offence. For instance, the maximum penalty for robbery, a Class B felony, is 30 years in prison. On the other hand, the maximum penalty for first-degree murder, a Class A felony, is life in prison.
Moreover, the penalties for a felony assault can also be severe, depending on the circumstances. For example, an assault with a deadly weapon may warrant more serious legal consequences. Generally, assault with a deadly weapon is quite similar to assault. Still, the former has an added element: the unintentional or intentional use of a deadly weapon, making the assault an aggravated one.
However, to better understand assault with a deadly weapon as a felony, there are questions that you need to answer. In that case, you should consult a legal professional to learn more. For instance, you might want to ask the ‘what is a deadly weapon?’ question to determine when and how its use becomes a felony assault.
Although drunk driving is sometimes classified as a misdemeanour, it may be considered a felony, especially if the offender has prior convictions for the same offence. In some states, if you’ve been convicted at least three times within ten years for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or other drugs, your current drunk driving offence can be classified as a felony.
Also, regardless of whether or not it’s your first DUI offence, you can be charged with a felony if you cause serious injuries or the death of another person.
On the other hand, other circumstances can make your DUI charge a felony. For instance, some states charge DUI violations as a felony if minor passengers are involved. Perhaps you’re transporting children using a school bus and are caught driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. A court of law will consider your DUI offense a felony.
Given these circumstances, being charged with felony DUI is never easy. But what’s more frustrating about these charges is the penalties you must face if you receive a conviction. Although the penalties differ depending on the circumstances of your case, the most common examples include jail time, hefty fines, and revocation of driver’s license.
Creating public mayhem is a felony. For instance, falsely reporting a fire can cause a public disturbance and may result in stampedes, causing severe injuries.
In such a case, the suspect can be arrested, arraigned in a court of law, charged with a felony, and convicted. An individual found guilty of disorderly conduct that fits a felony may be sentenced to more than a year in prison and ordered to pay a significant fine.
Violation Of Liquor Law
There have been cases of adults selling liquor to minors who end up in emergency rooms or morgues for drinking excessively. In such cases, the seller can be charged with a felony and imprisoned for quite a while. In addition to imprisonment, the court may order a stiff fine.
There are many types of felonies. Some involve property damage, serious injuries, or death. An individual convicted of a felony may face a prison term ranging from one year to life imprisonment. Aside from imprisonment, other penalties for felonies may include considerable fines and loss of some civil rights and privileges.