Felonies are serious crimes whose classification often depends on the length of the sentence prescribed. In most states, any crime that results in a sentence of one or more years is considered a felony. Misdemeanors are the next classification of crimes, and involve sentences of up to one year maximum. Both felonies and misdemeanors may involve criminal fines, though the fines for felonies are much more than for misdemeanors.
What Are Some Common Types of Felonies?
Felonies often involve elements of violence, or intentional thefts of valuable property. Also, felonies that involve federal statutes may result in serious legal penalties. Some examples of felonies include:
- Grand theft crimes (Crimes over a certain dollar amount, usually over $500)
- "Aggravated" crimes (such as aggravated stalking or aggravated battery)
- Homicide crimes
- Cheating at gambling and attempting to cheat
- Kidnapping and continuous smuggling of persons
- Certain DUI offenses (especially those resulting in serious injury or property damages)
- Various white collar crimes and tax-related violations
- Manufacturing counterfeit items such as gambling chips
- Sexual assault incidents
- Felony interference with custody
- Forcing people into prostitution
- Serious cases of domestic violence
As mentioned, felonies usually result in prison time of at least one year. However, penalties may increase with repeat offenses.
What Are "Wobbler" Crimes?
Wobbler crimes are crimes that can either be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony. The choice of whether to call the crime a misdemeanor or felony often depends on the facts of the case as well as the judge’s personal discretion. Common types of wobbler offenses include DUI crimes, assault and battery, or theft. For instance, a theft of property valued at $100 is usually a misdemeanor, whereas theft valued at $5,000 is likely going to be a felony.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Felony Charges?
Felonies can result in severe legal penalties for the defendant. You may need to hire your own qualified criminal law lawyer for help defending against criminal charges. An attorney can help you with your case, and can also determine whether the crime may be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony.