The criminal systems across the states are divided into different major categories: misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors are less serious crimes with lower fines and jail time. In comparison, felonies are much more serious with higher fines and prison time. These crimes usually include murder, rape, kidnapping, arson or burglary. The length of incarceration differs among misdemeanors and felonies.
Additionally, the consequences of a felony conviction are greater than those of misdemeanors. For example, a felony conviction can deter your prospects for employment and certain professional licenses.
Generally, states define felonies according to the degree of their seriousness and classify them through some levels or subcategories. Some states use “levels” such as 1,2, or 3 and some states use “class” such as A, B, or C. Class A and level 1 are considered the most serious of crimes. Class C and level 3 are considered the lesser degree of crimes. Other states use a crime-by-crime basis, and some use a hybrid approach.
The states that use crime-by-crime basis assign a sentence to every misdemeanor and felony. Most of these will appear in the criminal statutes of those states. Lastly, some states use a combination of both subcategories and crimes found in the criminal statutes.
The classifications are utilized to determine the punishment assigned to each crime. For example, a state can have a class B and make that crime punishable by 10 years in prison and fines amounting to $400,000. Each state has its separate penal code and assigns the punishment that it seems necessary for the crime committed. The sentencing for crimes depends on the class of felony. The judge makes their decision based on the guidelines provided through the classification of felonies and also takes into account the criminal history of the criminal.
Some states do not define the word felony, while the federal government defines it as a crime with a punishment of more than one year. A felony charge could also lead to life imprisonment. Since, the punishments can be severe and harsh, it is important to observe proper criminal procedures to ensure everyone’s rights are protected.
Apart from being criminally charged and receive prison or jail time, you can face some severe civil consequences for a class A felony that include:
- The right to vote diminishes;
- Cannot participate in a jury;
- Cannot hold public office or run for office;
- Cannot possesses firearms;
- Becomes difficult to find employment opportunities;
- Lose the privilege of financial aid for further education and;
- Finding adequate housing becomes challenging.
This depends on the type of felony committed and your criminal background. After a consideration of other factors, you may be eligible for probation. Probation is the suspension of jail time but sometimes a person must serve some prison time before being placed on probation. Probation is maintaining certain conditions and if you violate those you can be imprisoned.
Additionally, after being convicted of a felony, parole is also another option. Parole is a conditional release before the full term prison sentence. It is similar to probation but you need to meet with a parole officer on a regular basis and follow the guidelines set as the parole in your case.
Furthermore, after conviction of a felony, you have the option of appealing it in the higher court. This is challenging to do and requires the lawyer to show that there has been a mistake in the initial criminal trial process. Also, a felony conviction stays on your record. However, this can hinder your job opportunities. Therefore, some apply to have their criminal history expunged.
This means removing the conviction from your record and having it so it never happened. But there are guidelines each state sets for expungements. In some jurisdictions, no felony can be expunged from the criminal record. However, some states do allow for non-violent felonies expungements from the criminal record.
If you are facing a class A felony charge, you can seek out a lawyer to help with the possibility of lower fines and or punishment. There are serious consequences for being convicted of a felony. Therefore, it is important to consider the punishment for the crime based on the criminal classification system your state adheres to.
There are several options for what is available for someone who is convicted of a felony. It is crucial to reach out to a class A felony lawyer to understand the different possibilities in your situation (for example, parole, probation and or expungement). Additionally, if you have a prior criminal history it may be complicated and you would need to seek assistance from a criminal lawyer for your case.