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List of Different Felony Classes and Punishments

June 23, 2020 Federal Criminal Attorneys

Every state in the United States has a different grouping of felony offenses according to the severity of the felony and punishment. To assign sentencing to each crime, many divide the felonies into subgroups, some states deliver a sentence based on the crime. For some, they prefer the hybrid approach.

Different types of crime
There are there types of crimes: infractions, misdemeanor, and felonies. Infractions are not severe and often punished by warnings. Whereas misdemeanors and felonies have more severe consequences, they have the following differences:
• A misdemeanor carries a potential sentence to county jail, while felonies lead to sentencing in state prison.
• Misdemeanor sentences in most states are not longer than a year, whereas felonies carry a long sentence, including life imprisonment. In states with the death penalty, certain felonies lead to a death sentence.
• After being convicted with a misdemeanor, ramifications are not that serious. Felony convicts lose some professional licenses, cannot serve in a jury, and lose the right to vote and the right to bear arms.
Classification of crime: Classes and Levels
It is common for states to use subcategories to show the seriousness of a felony. Every subcategory is assigned its sentence or sentence range. For example, Indiana classifies its crimes as Class A, B, C, or D felonies. Each of those classes has its punishment. By knowing the level of a crime, one can learn its possible sentence.
Some states use levels and degrees instead of classes. For example, Virginia uses levels 1 to 6, whereas Ohio uses the 1st to 5th degree. Then other states use description levels.

Definition of felony classes
The following felony classes exist in the U.S.
• Class A
• Class B
• Class C
• Class D
• Class E
Class A felony
Many states categorize crime by their severity, from the most serious to the least one. Therefore class A or level one crimes are the most severe cases in those states. Because every state has its penal cord, a Class A offense in one state may be a Class B offense in another state. Class A felonies include treason, terrorism, and aggravated murder, among others.
Punishment for Class A crimes ranges from one year sentence to life imprisonment depending on the offense charged and time added on the base sentence.

Class B felony
A class B crime is the second most serious crime after Class A. They include manslaughter, assault and battery, and heroin and cocaine possession. Sentences for Class B felonies are not more than 25 years.

Class C felony
They may include forgery, bribery, money laundering, and kidnapping.
Consequences for class C offenses vary from state to state. Class C crimes are often punishable by jail sentences of not more than ten years. Conviction of a Class C felony stays permanently on the offender’s record.

Class D felony
A class D felony is a crime that does not involve physical violence towards an individual. Examples may include; car theft, drunk driving, stalking, and fraud.
Class D offenses are punishable by jail time, payment of fines, and community service.

Class E felony
This is the least severe crimes in states that categorize felonies into classes. They include: luring a child, possession of child pornography, among others.
Class E felonies are often punished with no prison time but come with probation of 2-4 years.

Classification with No Subcategories
Some states do not use categories; instead, they allocate a sentence to a felony, one crime after the other. For example, in Massachusetts, each offense’s punishment will appear in each felony’s statute defining the felony.

Hybrid Approach Classification
Some states use this approach, meaning they use subcategories for most felonies, and for others, they assign the sentence in the statute defining the felony. For example, Colorado has crime levels 1 to 6 and unclassified crimes. When the felony is an unclassified offense, the sentence will be found in the statute defining the felony.

Kansas Grid Classification
Kansas has a unique sentencing system that uses a complicated grid that takes into account the seriousness of a crime and the defendant’s criminal history. Therefore, a less severe crime committed by a first-time offender is charged the least compared to a serious crime committed by a repeat offender who will be charged severely.

Federal Crimes Classification
The U.S. Congress uses a sentencing scheme that is similar to the Kansas grid system. It consists of 43 crime levels and six categories of criminal history. The intersection of these two determines the sentencing range of a felony. Judges use this system as a starting point when passing sentences.

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