A felony is any crime that is punishable by a sentence of more than one year, typically served in a prison facility rather than a jail facility. Felonies include the most serious crimes, and often involve heavy criminal fines when compared to less serious misdemeanor offenses. Felony charges can sometimes be expunged or deleted from one’s record, though it usually takes some time before a person can be eligible for expungement.
Some common classes of felonies include: various homicide charges, drug crimes, grand theft and other property crimes such as criminal damage to property, arson, kidnapping crimes, failing to inform a partner about one's HIV status, sexual assault cases, interference with custody and guardian rights crimes including interference across state lines, and certain types of white-collar crimes. Although the term "felony" is often associated with violence, there are several felony crimes that are non-violent.
What Are the Legal Penalties for Felony Charges?
As mentioned, felonies result in prison sentences of at least one year. Less serious misdemeanors result in sentences of less than one year. Some felony charges can involve prison sentences of 5, 10, 15, or 20 years. Repeat offenses or multiple charges can sometimes result in a life sentence of imprisonment.
Criminal fines may also result from a felony conviction. These can often involve very high dollar amounts. In some cases, the person may be required to pay criminal retribution, which is payment for the losses caused to the victim. In some states, felony charges can also result in a loss of certain rights, such as the right to own a firearm or the right to vote.
Are There Any Legal Defenses for Felonies?
Criminal defenses may also apply to felony charges. For instance, self-defense is commonly raised for felonies involving assault and battery. Intoxication is another commonly raised defense, wherein the person’s intoxication negates their ability to act intentionally.
Of course, the facts of the case must support the defendant’s defense. This can be proven through physical evidence, witness testimony, video/audio/photograph files, and other items of evidence.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Assistance with Felony Charges?
Felony crimes can often lead to very serious legal consequences. You may need to hire a criminal defense lawyer if you or your loved ones are facing criminal charges. Your attorney can provide you with valuable legal advice that will help you during the criminal proceedings.