There are two classes of crimes. The two classes of crimes are misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors are punishable by up to a year in jail. Felonies are considered to be more serious crimes. Felonies are generally punishable by imprisonment for more than one year. 

What are Examples of Felonies?

In general, there are two types of crimes. There are crimes against property, and crimes against a person. Crimes against property involve crimes directed at someone’s home. Crimes against property also include crimes against personal property. Crimes against the person involve bodily harm or injury to an individual.

Felony crimes against property include, among others:

  • Burglary: Burglary is the unauthorized breaking and entering into another’s home or other structure, with the intent to commit a felony, such as rape;
  • Arson: Arson occurs when a defendant maliciously burns or chars property such as a home or office building. A defendant can commit arson by burning or charring the  property of another, or the defendant’s own property; 
  • Embezzlement: Embezzlement is the fraudulent conversion (stealing) of another’s personal property, by a person in lawful possession of the property. Embezzlement  occurs when a person who has been entrusted to another’s property, takes that property for their own use;  
  • Larceny: Larceny occurs when defendant unlawfully takes another person’s property. The defendant must intend to permanently deprive the other person of the property. In some states, larceny is known as theft. If the value of what is stolen is significant, the defendant may be convicted of felony larceny; the stealing of something of lesser or minimal value may be classified as a misdemeanor;
  • Robbery: Robbery consists of taking of another’s property by using force or the threat of force. In other words, robbery consists of larceny by force; and
  • False pretenses: False pretenses is the obtaining of title to someone else’s personal property. Title is obtained by the defendant’s making an intentionally false statement to defraud the other person. 

Felony crimes against the person include, among others:

  • False imprisonment: False imprisonment is the intentional limitation or restriction of the movement of another person, without their consent. False imprisonment is considered a felony if the person falsely imprisoned is a child, or if force is used to commit the false imprisonment;
  • Kidnapping: Kidnapping consists of the carrying away, confinement, or detention of another person, against that person’s will. Kidnapping differs from false imprisonment. By definition, kidnapping involves the movement of another person, whereas false imprisonment involves confining another;
  • Murder: Murder is the intentional killing of anther person;  
  • Manslaughter: Manslaughter is the killing of another person, without the intent to kill; and
  • Felony murder: Felony murder is murder that takes place when defendant is committing what the law calls an inherently dangerous felony. Inherently dangerous felonies include rape, robbery, burglary, arson, and kidnapping. 

Many criminal offenses are classified as both misdemeanors and felonies. With respect to crimes against the property, generally, the more significant the destruction to property, or the value of property stolen, the more likely the crime is a felony, rather than a misdemeanor. 

With respect to crimes against the person, the more serious the harm, the more likely the crime is a felony. The use of force, the use of a weapon, or committing the crime against a child, elderly individual, or member of law enforcement, are all factors that make classification of the crime as a felony more likely. 

What is the Punishment for Committing a Felony?

An individual who is convicted of a felony faces prison time of over a year. In addition, a felony can be punishable by fines and penalties. 

An individual who commits a felony may be ordered to pay restitution to a victim. Restitution involves paying a victim for losses caused by the defendant’s commission of the felony. For example, if a defendant commits the felony of aggravated battery, and the victim suffers extensive injuries requiring medical treatment, the defendant can be ordered to pay restitution by covering the cost of the medical bills.

In some instances, the defendant can be sued in civil court by the victim. The victim may be able to recover monetary damages for physical and mental injuries, pain and suffering, and medical expenses.  

Commission of a felony carries additional penalties. An individual who commits a sex offense felony, such as rape or child pornography possession, may be required to register as a sex offender.

In many states, individuals who commit felonies forfeit the right to vote. Many states have laws  prohibiting released felons from engaging in activity that is otherwise lawful. For example, many states terminate professional licenses, such as law licenses, and permits, such as firearms permits. 

Do I Need the Help of a Lawyer if I Have Been Charged with a Felony?

If you have been charged with a felony, you should contact a criminal defense attorney. An experienced local criminal attorney can explain your rights, assist you in preparing a defense, and can represent you in court.