Felony or criminal offenses vary in nature and intensity, and accordingly punishment is meted out to the convicted person. This Buzzle article will throw some light on the classification of felonies.
In society, various types of crimes are committed, and some of these crimes do not pose a serious threat to the general populace, like speeding, trespassing, use of false ID, etc. However, there are crimes that pose a serious threat to individuals or the entire society. These crimes include rape, murder, robbery, etc. A crime is an act that is directly or indirectly a violation of law, that is punishable according to the law violated. Crimes are classified to help decide a punishment for the convicted person. The seriousness of the crime is what decides the level of punishment to be imposed. Many times, states may vary slightly with their classification of a particular crime. A serious crime is often categorized as a felony, and crimes of a less serious nature are called misdemeanor.
What is a Felony
According to many state and federal laws, felony is a crime of a very serious nature, and carries a sentence of more than one year in prison. Some states also consider any length of time spent in prison as felony. A few states have capital punishment, i.e., death as a punishment for the crime.
The different crimes that are considered as felonies in most states in United States of America are:
- Aggravated assault and/or battery
- Illegal drug use/sale
- Grand theft
- Vandalism on federal property
Classification of Felonies
Every state has its own classification system and rules that rates felonies. What one state considers as a felony, may be considered as a misdemeanor in another state. Therefore, misdemeanor and felony is divided by a very fine line in different states. The classifications are based on the severity of the punishment. Some states assign a number to the class of felony, for example Class 1. Class 1 felony is considered to be the most serious of all crimes. Also, higher the number of the class, the less serious is the crime. Some states use an alphabet system to grade the felony. For example, Class A is for the most serious crimes committed by an individual(s), and Class I is the least serious type of felony committed.
The type of crime committed is also rated differently according to different state rules. Crimes such as murder, kidnapping, rape, are considered to be the most serious of all crimes. They are generally placed in Class A or Class 1. Crimes of non-violent nature like sale or use of drugs maybe considered as Class A or 1 crimes by certain states, while some states may rate them lower. Some states also consider ‘three strikes’ in criminal laws. This means if one commits their third felony crime, they would be tried under a higher class of felony. The following list is the classification of felonies adopted by the Wisconsin state classification.
Class A Felony
Generally, the punishment for Class A felony is a life-sentence. The crimes are of a very serious nature that include murder and first-degree intentional homicide. The penalty consists of a life-sentence without parole. The fine imposed by some states are as high as USD 50,000. In some states, Class 1 consists of a death sentence.
Class B Felony
Class B felony carries a sentence of up to 60 years in prison. In some states, the convicted person may face a life of probation. The fines can be as high as USD 30,000. The crimes under Class 2 are manslaughter, conspiracy, kidnapping, and first-degree sexual assault.
The penalty for Class C felony is a fine of USD 100,000. The punishment includes up to 40 years of imprisonment with or without fine. Many states do not consider Class C or Class 3 felony as a very serious crime. The crimes under this class include second-degree assault, kidnapping, arson, and robbery.
The Class D felony offenses carry a fine of about USD 100,000 and imprisonment of up to 25 years. The crimes under this class include vehicular homicide, child enticement, and solicitation of a child.
The class E felony crimes carries a 15-year prison sentence with or without a fine of up to USD 50,000. The crimes consist of battery, burglary, and robbery.
Class F felony has a prison sentence of about 12 years and fine up to USD 25,000. Crimes that are classified as Class F include sexual exploitation, stalking, and theft.
A prison sentence of about 10 years with or without a fine of USD 25,000 is attached to the Class G felony. Negligent homicide, embezzlement, and theft are the crimes considered under Class G classification.
A prison term of 6 years with a fine of about $10,000 is the punishment for Class H felonies. The crimes include stalking, theft, and false imprisonment.
This is least severe felony of all offenses. The sentence is of about 3½ years in prison and a fine of about USD 10,000. The felony crimes included under this category are child pornography, battery, theft, and stalking.
You should keep in mind that the prison sentences mentioned may increase or decrease depending on the nature of crime, character, history, and circumstances of crime committed by the felon. Different states have different set of rules based on the basic guideline of imparting justice to all. If one is charged with felony, he/she should find out the class of felony he is charged under. The classification is what determines the penalty and sentence, if convicted. You should speak to your felony lawyer regarding any doubts and further actions to be taken.