Felony and Misdemeanor Criminal Charges: Classes and Punishments
In the United States, criminal offenses are divided into categories based on the severity of the offense committed. The three categories of crime include: felony, misdemeanor and infractions. Infractions are minor offenses which usually do not attract a prison sentencing. These include offenses such as violation of the municipal codes or ordinances, traffic tickets, DUI and DWI. Misdemeanors are criminal offenses which are serious enough to attract a penalty of a year or less in prison. Misdemeanors may also be punished with probation, a fine, involve conditional or unconditional discharge or it may also involve a punishment in the form of community service. Felonies are considered the most severe of all criminal offenses. These usually warrant a punishment of at least a year in prison or more or probation.
However, what is to be considered as felony and what is to be considered a misdemeanor varies from state to state. Additionally, the classification of the various levels of felonies and misdemeanors also vary from state to state. Therefore it is important to familiarize yourself with your state’s laws to know about the different types of criminal offenses and the punishment that each of them warrant.
Punishment for a misdemeanor charge may include one of the following:
Probation, a sentence of up to a year in a local prison, conditional discharge, community service, unconditional discharge, suspension of an individual’s driver’s license, monetary fine, attending treatment programs and orders of protection.
Classes of Misdemeanors
There are three types of misdemeanor offenses. Class A misdemeanor is the most serious of all the misdemeanor charges and warrants a punishment of up to a year in jail. Class B misdemeanor charges attract a punishment of 6 months in jail. Unclassified misdemeanor charges warrant varying jail terms.
Some of the Class A misdemeanor and Class B misdemeanor charges are stalking in the 3rd degree, 2nd degree menacing, 3rd degree assault cases, sexual abuse charges, 5th degree arson charges, 3rd degree forgery charges, petty larceny cases, 3rd degree identity theft charges, bail jumping charges of the 3rd degree, criminal possession of a weapon in the 4th degree and so on. Unclassified misdemeanor charges are those which involve vehicular and traffic law violations such as driving while intoxicated or unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.
Classes of Felonies and Respective Punishments
Felonies are classified on the basis of the severity of the offense. Some of the important classes of felonies and the punishment warranted by them are:
Class A Felony: A class A felony is punishable by a sentence that involves serving a life term in prison, capital punishment or a life term without parole. Examples of class A felonies are kidnapping, murder charges, sexual assault, drug peddling and vehicular homicide.
Class B Felony: A class B felony attracts a punishment of a prison term that is up to 20 years. Examples of class B felony offenses are: burglary, 3rd degree DUI charges, peddling large amounts of drugs, and DUI cases that result in substantial harm or death to another individual.
Class C Felony: A class C felony warrants a punishment of a jail sentence which may be up to 5 years. Examples of class C felonies are: frauds, bribery cases, stalking, counterfeiting charges and battery cases that are committed without any weapons.
Class D Felony: A class D felony attracts a sentencing of up to 4 years in jail. Examples of class D felony charges are: using dangerous weapons to resist arrest by an officer, performing a sexual act in a public domain, perjury cases, keeping dangerous animals as pets, and arson cases of the 3rd and 4th degree.
Class E Felony: A class E felony warrants a sentence of up to 4 years in prison, and requires mandatory probation. Examples of class E felony cases are illegal drug possession, food stamp fraud charges, illegal staging of animal fights, and welfare fraud cases.
Misdemeanor vs. Felony Cases
A defendant charged with a misdemeanor charge does not have any right to an attorney. Additionally that individual does not have a right to indictment by the grand jury or to a preliminary examination to review the basis of the charges filed. In some states misdemeanor charges are tried by a panel of six jurors whereas a felony charge may be tried by a panel of twelve.
For more information on felonies and misdemeanor charges individuals can visit :