Felony Charges Lawyers

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 What is a Felony?

A felony is any criminal offense resulting in one year or longer in prison. Felonies involve violence and are considered harmful or dangerous to society. Felony crimes include some of the most serious crimes a person can commit, such as murder, rape, and arson.

Crimes that do not amount to a felony fall into two categories: misdemeanors or citations. Misdemeanors can be punished with a fine or a stay in jail of less than one year, and citations can only be punished with a fine.

There is a fourth category of crime called a “wobbler.” A wobbler is a crime that can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony offense. The circumstances of a case will dictate what the defendant will be charged with. If the crime is non-violent and the defendant did not harm anyone in the process (e.g., a DUI that was caught because the defendant got sleepy and pulled over, then was spotted by the police).

The defendant would likely be charged with a misdemeanor if no harm occurred to anyone. On the other hand, if the crime is violent, the defendant is a repeat offender, or if they hurt someone during the commission of the crime, then the wobbler will more likely bring on felony-level charges. This would happen if they crashed into another car during the DUI or were a repeat offender.

What are Examples of Felony Charges?

Each state’s criminal statutes specify which crimes are felonies and which are not. There are some criminal charges that most states tend to classify as felony offenses:

  • Property crimes: Grand theft, arson, and vandalism.
  • Drug offenses: Distributing, selling, or trafficking drugs
  • Sex crimes and human trafficking
  • Violent offenses: First- and second-degree murder and robbery
  • White collar crimes: Embezzlement, securities fraud, and tax evasion.

A violent felony is a crime that involves the use of threats or force against another person. It often causes physical injury to that individual and sometimes may even result in death.

In contrast, a non-violent felony involves non-physical damage to the victim’s person, such as damage to a house by arson or a loss of money or property through a scam like cheating while gambling.

Additionally, non-violent felonies are often victimless crimes, including criminal offenses relating to drug possession, solicitation, or counterfeiting authentic items (e.g., money).

What are Some Differences Between Misdemeanors and Felonies?

A crime that is classified as a felony is generally considered to be more serious an offense than a misdemeanor. Felony offenses tend to cause greater harm to the victim or society. For example, grand theft is a felony offense involving the theft of property valued over $1,000 – a large amount. On the other hand, petty theft (a misdemeanor) involves the theft of property valued under $1,000 – a smaller amount. Petty theft is a less serious offense than grand theft.

Incarceration is more severe with a felony. Felony prison sentences are served at federal or state prisons, which provide higher security and place more severe restrictions on inmates, as opposed to county jails.

Misdemeanors may be served in prison, but if the term is short, they may also be served at county jails, which house less violent offenders and contain relatively relaxed security. On the other hand, jails don’t necessarily provide regular exercise, fresh air, counseling, and educational and vocational programs, whereas prisons are expected to do so.

Many misdemeanor offenses are considered victimless crimes, such as solicitation of prostitution, being in contempt of court, traffic offenses, and disorderly conduct. In cases where someone suffers bodily harm due to a misdemeanor, such incidents usually result in only minor injuries or damages. Felonies are not victimless.

What are Some Common Felony Charges?

Although felony offenses and their resulting penalties will vary depending on the jurisdiction, states will generally classify the following crimes as felonies:

  • Homicide, including attempted murder
  • Armed robbery (stealing directly from a person)
  • Burglary (stealing from the victim’s house)
  • Assault, including battery, assault with intent to kill, assault with significant bodily injury, assault with a deadly weapon, and assault on a police officer
  • Sexual battery and rape
  • Domestic violence
  • Arson
  • Kidnapping and smuggling of persons
  • Fraud
  • Certain traffic offenses (e.g., driving under the influence)
  • Manufacturing counterfeit items
  • A felon in possession of a firearm or other prohibited weapon
  • Theft, including grand theft
  • Embezzlement
  • Carjacking
  • Receipt of stolen property

What are Some Common Defenses for Felony Charges?

The defenses available for each felony will vary according to the unique circumstances surrounding each case and the type of felony involved. Some common defenses to felony charges include:

Defenses based on the state of mind:

  • Lack of intent to commit a crime
  • Insanity or diminished mental capacity
  • The defendant acted involuntarily or accidentally
  • Mistake (e.g., the defendant thought the property was theirs)
  • Involuntary intoxication (someone spiked the defendant’s drink)

Defenses based on justification:

  • Self-defense
  • Defense of another person
  • Duress (the defendant was forced by someone to commit the crime)
  • Necessity (the defendant had to commit the crime to prevent worse harm from occurring)
  • Adequate provocation (meaning the defendant was provoked into their actions)

No crime occurred

  • The defendant had the purported victim’s consent or permission
  • Abandonment or withdrawal (the defendant planned to commit a crime but changed their mind)
  • The arrest violated the defendant’s constitutional rights (e.g., entrapment)
  • The defendant has an alibi


  • The statute of limitations has run (the window of time for charging the defendant with the crime has closed)
  • Age: the defendant was too young to be charged with a felony

While this is quite an extensive list, it is not exhaustive of the defenses available to a defendant in every case. Again, this is due to the varying state statutes and circumstances that apply to each case.
Therefore, a person who is charged with committing a felony offense should speak with a criminal defense attorney to see if there are additional defenses available for their case.

Should I Hire a Lawyer for Help with Felony Charges?

If you are facing charges for a Class C felony, then there is a strong possibility that you may need to serve significant time in prison if you are convicted. Usually, a conviction will remain on your criminal record for life, which can hurt your ability to find a job, get custody of your children, and sometimes even impact your right to vote.

Thus, if you are facing felony charges, you should speak with a local criminal defense lawyer in your area as soon as possible. An experienced criminal lawyer will be able to analyze and discuss your options. They will be able to explain your charges and what defenses may be available for your case and can determine the best legal strategy based on their knowledge of the laws in your area.

Your lawyer can request that you receive a reduced sentence. Additionally, your lawyer can help you prepare a solid defensive argument and can represent you in court or during negotiations for a plea deal. Criminal laws can be complex, but your attorney can inform you of your legal rights and options. They can also answer any specific inquiries or questions you may have during the proceedings.

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