Misdemeanors are less serious crimes that come with relatively lower fines and jail time. On the other hand, felonies are more severe offenses that carry higher fines and longer prison sentences. Felonies typically include murder, rape, kidnapping, arson, and burglary.
A felony conviction can negatively impact your job prospects and eligibility for professional licenses.
How Do States Classify Felonies?
In general, states categorize felonies based on their severity and place them into levels or subcategories. Some states use terms like “levels” (e.g., 1, 2, or 3), while others use “class” (e.g., A, B, or C).
Class A and level 1 felonies are the most severe offenses, while class C and level 3 felonies represent lesser degrees of crimes. Other states classify crimes on an individual basis, and some use a hybrid approach.
States that use a crime-by-crime basis allocate a sentence to each misdemeanor and felony. These sentences can usually be found in the criminal statutes of the respective states.
Some states use a combination of subcategories and specific crimes outlined in the criminal statutes. These classifications help determine the punishment assigned to each crime.
For example, a state might classify a crime as class B and stipulate that it is punishable by 10 years in prison and fines totaling $400,000.
Each state has its penal code and assigns the punishment it deems appropriate for the crime committed. The sentencing for crimes is contingent on the felony class. Judges base their decisions on the guidelines provided through the classification of felonies and the offender’s criminal history.
While some states do not define the term “felony,” the federal government characterizes it as a crime punishable by more than one year in prison. A felony charge could also result in a life sentence.
What Are the Civil Consequences of Class A Felony?
In addition to facing criminal charges and potential prison or jail time, people convicted of a class A felony may encounter serious civil consequences, such as:
- Diminished voting rights;
- Ineligibility to serve on a jury;
- Disqualification from holding public office or running for office;
- A prohibition from possessing firearms;
- Difficulty finding employment opportunities;
- Loss of eligibility for financial aid for further education; and
- Challenges securing adequate housing.
What Happens After the Felony Conviction?
The outcome after a felony conviction depends on the type of felony committed and the offender’s criminal background.
Probation is a form of supervised release that serves as an alternative to imprisonment.
It allows offenders to serve their sentences within their communities instead of being incarcerated, provided they adhere to specific conditions set by the court.
These conditions are designed to ensure the person’s rehabilitation and maintain public safety.
Conditions of Probation
The conditions imposed during probation can include the following:
- Reporting to a probation officer: Probationers must regularly meet with their assigned probation officer to review their progress and ensure compliance with the conditions of probation.
- Employment or education requirements: Probationers may be required to maintain steady employment or enroll in educational or vocational programs.
- Substance abuse treatment or counseling: If substance abuse is a factor in the offense, probationers may be required to participate in drug or alcohol treatment programs and undergo regular drug testing.
- Community service: As a form of restitution, probationers may be required to complete community service hours.
- Restitution to victims: Offenders may be required to compensate their victims for any financial losses resulting from the crime.
- Curfews or travel restrictions: Probationers may be subject to curfews or restricted from traveling outside a specific area without prior approval from their probation officer.
- No-contact orders: In cases involving domestic violence or harassment, probationers may be ordered to avoid contact with their victims.
- Prohibition of weapons: Probationers may be forbidden from owning or possessing any firearms or weapons.
- Compliance with treatment programs: Probationers may be required to attend and complete anger management, mental health, or other relevant treatment programs.
Consequences of Violating Probation Conditions
Violating any of the conditions set during probation can lead to severe consequences, including:
- Warning or reprimand: In some cases, the probation officer may issue a warning or reprimand to the probationer for a minor violation.
- Modification of probation conditions: The probation officer or the court may decide to modify the conditions of probation, making them more stringent or adding new conditions.
- Revocation of probation: The court may revoke probation and impose the original prison sentence if the probationer repeatedly or seriously violates the conditions of probation. This process typically involves a probation revocation hearing, where the probation officer presents evidence of the violations, and the probationer has an opportunity to defend themselves.
- Additional criminal charges: If a probationer commits a new crime while on probation, they may face additional criminal charges, resulting in a separate criminal case.
Offenders should seek legal counsel and work closely with their probation officers to ensure a successful probation period and prevent the possibility of imprisonment.
Additionally, parole may be an option after a felony conviction. Parole is a conditional release before completing the full prison sentence.
Similar to probation, parole requires regular meetings with a parole officer and adherence to the guidelines established for the parole in each case.
After a felony conviction, a person has the option to appeal the decision in a higher court. This process is difficult and requires the lawyer to demonstrate a mistake in the initial criminal trial proceedings.
A felony conviction remains on the offender’s record, which can hinder job opportunities. As a result, some people apply to have their criminal history expunged.
Expungement involves removing the conviction from the person’s record, effectively treating it as if it never occurred.
However, each state has specific guidelines for expungements. In some jurisdictions, no felony can be expunged from a criminal record.
Nevertheless, some states allow for the expungement of non-violent felonies from the criminal record.
Do I Need to Contact a Lawyer if I’m Facing Felony Charges?
If you face a class A felony charge, consult a lawyer who may help in potentially reducing fines or punishment.
The consequences of a felony conviction are severe, making it crucial to understand the punishment for the crime based on the criminal classification system followed in your state.
Consult with a class A felony lawyer to learn about the different possibilities in your situation (e.g., parole, probation, or expungement). Additionally, if you have a prior criminal history, your case may be more complicated, and you will need the assistance of a skilled criminal lawyer.
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