What Are Non-Violent Felonies?
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Misdemeanors vs. Felonies
A misdemeanor is a petty crime that is punishable by up to 1 year in county jail. While a misdemeanor can be violent or non-violent, it generally involves more minor offenses with minor damages, such as drug possession, sexual solicitation, and disorderly conduct.
A felony is a serious crime that is punishable by up to life in state or federal prison (or the death penalty, depending upon the jurisdiction). Felonies involve more severe injuries, including physical and financial injuries.
What Are Non-Violent Felonies?
A non-violent felony does not involve the use or threat of force or infliction of injury against the victim. Rather, the damage caused by the non-violent felony is non-physical, such as financial damage or property damage.
In addition, many non-violent felonies are “victimless” crimes. The legislature criminalizes certain victimless offenses for moral and societal purposes. For instance, carrying a pistol without a license is a victimless, non-violent felony.
Common categories of non-violent felonies include:
- White collar crimes
- Property crimes
- Drug crimes
- Alcohol crimes
Types of Non-Violent Felonies
Non-violent felonies vary by level of damage, type of intent, and seriousness of offense. Common non-violent felonies are:
- Cyber crimes
- Drug possession, distribution, and manufacturing
- Using a cheating device while gambling
- Grand theft and embezzlement
- Criminal damage to property
- Driving under the influence
- Selling cheating devices for gambling
- Forgery and counterfeiting
- Using and manufacturing counterfeit gambling chips
- Escape from government confinement, such as escaping from prison or jail
Defending Against Non-Violent Felony Charges
Although the police conducted an investigation and determined that they had probable cause to arrest you, this does not mean that their investigation or findings were correct. Criminal defense lawyers have their own private investigators that can conduct independent, parallel investigations, gather evidence and documents, interview witnesses, and comb the record. Using this information, the criminal defense lawyer can concoct a strong defense strategy aligned to your goals and the facts of the case.
Common non-violent felony defenses include:
- 4th and/or 5th Amendment violations
- Lack of probable cause
- Mistake or accident
- Permission or consent
- Lack of mens rea
Consequences of Non-Violent Felony Convictions
While they are not as severe as violent felonies, non-violent felonies still carry a host of devastating consequences for individuals facing conviction. These include:
- Considerable prison time
- Lengthy and onerous periods of probation or parole
- Fines or restitution
- Job loss
- Loss of the right to vote, own a gun or possess a professional license
- Damage to one’s reputation
- Inability to attend school or rent an apartment
Seek Help from a Lawyer for Your Non-Violent Felony Charges
If you have been accused of committing a non-violent felony, it is imperative that you speak with a criminal defense lawyer immediately about your case. A criminal defense attorney can guide you through how to proceed, including whether to plead or pursue trial.
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Last Modified: 12-09-2016 04:20 PM PST
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