Most jurisdictions classify crimes into two categories- misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors are punishable by fines and jail time of less than one year. Felonies are more serious crimes that may be punished by stiffer fines and time in prison for more than one year.
Many states further classify felony crimes into classes, such as Class A, Class B, Class C felony, etc. Class A is usually reserved for the most serious types of felonies such as first degree murder, rape, involuntary servitude of a minor, kidnapping in the first degree, or other crimes that are considered to be heinous.
The criminal laws of each state are different from one another. Each state’s criminal statutes may include different crimes under Class A felony, and the accompanying punishments may be different as well. Some states use different names and classification systems, such as Class 1 felony.
What Are the Penalties of Class A Felony charges?
The punishments for each classification are usually the most severe beginning with Class A, and become less severe with the following classes. For example, Class A felony charges may result in a life imprisonment sentence, while Class D may result in a 25 year sentence.
The legal consequences of a class A felony charge vary widely from state to state, but in general they include:
- Heavy monetary fines (sometimes up to $100,000)
- Lengthy prison sentences (anywhere from 10 years to life imprisonment)
A defendant may also receive additional penalties for class A felony charges if the crime involved a minor, or if the crime involved a sexual assault. Also, repeat offenders will receive more severe penalties. For example, some states impose a mandatory life sentence for persons who have committed a second Class A felony.
Some class A felony offenders may be sentenced to a death penalty if the state or jurisdiction allows it. For states that do not impose the death penalty, other means of punishment may be prescribed, such as performing manual labor. A judge may issue probation if the offender is eligible.
Are there any Civil consequences for Class A Felonies?
In addition to the criminal penalties described above, being found guilty of a class A felony can result in many undesirable civil consequences such as:
- Loss of the right to vote: Many states revoke voting privileges for convicted felons.
- Loss of the right to bear arms: Convicted felons may be indefinitely deprived of their right to own or carry a firearm. Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon can result is in itself a separate felony charge.
- Loss of driving privileges: A judge may revoke the defendant’s driver’s license and driving privileges at their discretion. This often happens if the class A felony was a DUI resulting in the death or serious injury of the victim, or if the person intentionally used their vehicle to injure or assault someone.
- Loss of child custody/visitation privileges: This may be imposed especially if the defendant is considered to be dangerous or if the felony involved harm to a child.
- Jury duty restriction: In many jurisdictions, persons guilty of a Class A felony cannot serve on a jury until they have completed their sentence or probation period.
Finally, having a class A felony on one’s criminal record may make it more difficult for the person to find a job or housing. Most screening interviews require disclosure of any history felony charges (though they may not always be able to ask about the nature of the offense). A judge may also restrict travel outside of the country.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Class A Felony charges?
Class A felonies are generally the most serious type of crime; they carry with them the most severe legal penalties and can even result in a life prison sentence. If you are facing Class A felony charges, you should speak with an experienced criminal attorney immediately for advice on how to proceed. A lawyer will be able to assist you in court and determine whether you have any defenses available, such as self-defense.