A misdemeanor is a lesser crime, which usually carries a sentence of a fine and/or a short jail sentence of one year or less. A felony is a more serious crime with punishment ranging from fines to multiple years in prison.
Each state separated a felony into categories, or classes, according to the severity of the crime and punishment. The classes are different in each jurisdiction. Some states, including Alabama and Alaska, classify felonies by alphabet, such as Class A and Class B. Other states such as Arizona and Colorado classify felonies by a numerical level, such as 1, 2, and 3. There are some jurisdictions that do not have classifications or follow a hybrid class and level system.
The federal level has approximately 43 levels, not classes, of felony crimes.
A Class A felony, also considered a Level 1 felony, is a classification reserved for the most serious crimes, such as murder or involuntary servitude of a child. For instance, an individual convicted of a Class A felony may be sentenced to life in prison. However, which crimes are classified as a Class A felony depend on each state’s laws.
A Class B felony crime is a very serious crime, but not a serious as a Class A felony. Thus, the sentence for a Class B felony is usually not as severe as a sentence for a Class A felony, but it usually does include some prison time. Keep in mind that the amount of time an individual receives in prison depends on whether there are sentencing enhancements. For instance, an individual may be sentenced to decades in prison beyond the original potential sentence if they:
- Have any prior convictions
- Used a deadly weapon
- Committed a gang crime
- Committed a hate crime
Felonies are considered less serious with each alphabet. For instance, Class C includes crimes such as involuntary manslaughter and selling or purchasing a child. This crime is a homicide that the accused did not mean to commit, and it occurs during the commission of a crime or because of criminal negligence. The prison sentence for a Class C felony can range from five to 10 years. Felony classes also include D and E.
If you are facing felony charges, you need to contact a criminal attorney. Felonies are extremely serious and may result in a lengthy prison sentence and fines.