A felony is a serious criminal offense that typically attracts serious punishment. However, penalties for this crime can vary by case and can be determined by the facts of a case. Common examples of felonies include murder, rape, arson, fraud, and more. Less serious crimes are either misdemeanors or citations.
This crime is committed by violence and that’s why perpetrators of such crimes are considered dangerous to society. It’s important to understand that all serious crimes, such as arson or (murder) are felonies. If you’ve been charged with a felony, you’re likely to be imprisoned for a long time. However, a criminal attorney in Toronto ON can save the situation.
Frequently Asked Questions about Felonies
There are several distinctions between felonies and misdemeanors. First, felonies are considered to be more serious than misdemeanors and they also involve violence, unlike misdemeanors. The other difference relates to the punishments applicable to both crimes, where felonies attract more severe punishments compared to misdemeanors.
A misdemeanor convict can pay fines and their prison sentences do not exceed 1 year. On the other hand, criminal convicts are required to pay hefty fines and/or a minimum jail time of 1 year–the maximum jail time can vary by state. Sometimes the court can reduce an offense to a misdemeanor depending on the facts surrounding your case.
Some crimes are neither felonies nor misdemeanors. Such a crime can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor and it’s called a wobbler. Courts or prosecutors consider certain facts of a case when handling a wobbler. For instance, non-violent crimes where no one was injured can be charged as misdemeanors while crimes involving violence are likely to be charged as felonies. Also, repeat offenders are likely to be charged with felonies.
Classification of felonies depends on the seriousness of the act committed and other factors, such as:
- Use of violence or weapons;
- Is the accused person a first or second-time offender?
- Existence of injuries or fatalities, and
- State where the crime was committed.
For instance, first-degree murder can be a Class A or Class 1 felony in some states. Also, domestic violence is considered a misdemeanor in some states but felonies in others. Classifications mainly determine the charges to be brought against an accused person and applicable punishment(s). For instance, a Class E felony attracts a less severe sentence than a Class A felony.
State laws and the facts of a case determine how a crime will be charged. A crime can be a felony in one state and not in another. However, the following criminal offenses are considered felonies in all jurisdictions:
- Property crimes, such as grand thefts, arson, or vandalism;
- Drug-related offenses, including distributing and drugs trafficking;
- Sexual assault and human trafficking;
- Crimes involving violence, such as first-degree & second-degree murder, or robbery;
- White-collar crimes or crimes committed without violence, such as embezzlement, fraud,
Several factors can influence the outcome of your sentence. In other words, various factors–internal and external factors, can come into play when litigating felonies. Those factors can work for or against the accused person. For instance, a court can recommend a lenient punishment or penalty to first-time offenders; particularly if the felony did not involve violence. In contrast, the same court will recommend severe penalties for repeat offenders, and if the felony involved injuries.
The penalty can also be reduced through legal defenses. For instance, the defendant can use the consent defense if the plaintiff consented to the accused’s acts and they were aware of the potential consequences. In such a case, the sentence can be reduced.
State laws and the facts of the crime committed can impact or have a bearing on a case. For instance, “wobblers” can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the crime and the applicable laws. If the case lacks aggravating factors, such as the existence of serious injuries or using a deadly weapon, the case can be charged as a misdemeanor.
However, if the defendant can show their actions were done in self-defense or some other defense that causes the plaintiff to lose or their claims to become questionable, then the defendant may be able to get their civil penalties reduced or dropped.
Felonies are typically hard to litigate and that’s why individuals facing such charges should consider contacting a criminal defense lawyer for legal counsel. A lawyer can help you understand the applicable laws in your respective state that can impact your case besides advising you on what to do. Therefore, seeking help from a lawyer when facing felony charges is in your best interests.
Felony in criminal law is a broad subject that can extend beyond the scope of this article. However, advice from a legal professional can be invaluable if you want to learn more about felonies.