Westchester County Felony Lawyer
When dealing with criminal law, felony crimes are considered to be the most serious offenses that a person can be charged with. Felonies can be both violent and non-violent. The main defining characteristic of a felony crime is that if you’re found guilty, you will face a minimum sentence of one year in prison. The incarceration is required to be served in an official prison facility instead of a county jail. If a person is convicted of a felony, they might also face criminal fines for thousands of dollars.
Traditional common law defined felonies as “true crimes.” Usually, “true crimes” included serious offenses including homicide, arson, rape, attempted murder, criminal property damage, escape from prison, and assisting in any felony-level crime. Different states have different statutes that define what crimes count as felonies. Federal law also defines federal felonies. For this reason, if you’re accused of a felony, it’s important to get in contact with an attorney that’s experienced practicing law in your state.
Differences Between Felonies and Misdemeanors
The biggest difference between a felony and a misdemeanor is the associated sentence. Misdemeanor crimes are less serious than felonies, and therefore carry less serious penalties. In most cases, a class A misdemeanor carries a potential jail sentence of one year maximum. This is the most serious type of misdemeanor. Conversely, a felony conviction has a minimum penalty of one year in prison. A class E felony, the least serious felony charge, has a potential penalty of three years in prison.
There are some misdemeanors that might be upgraded to a felony status if “aggravating factors” are present when the crime is committed. The most common example of this is assault. Assault is usually charged as a misdemeanor. But if the assault involves a deadly weapon, or the assault is committed against a police officer, child, or other vulnerable person, that charge might be elevated to “felony assault.” The difference in the sentences is huge, given that a misdemeanor has a maximum penalty of one year in jail, while a felony’s minimum penalty is one year in prison.
These are common felony crimes:
- Murder and homicide
- Interfering with the custody rights of a guardian
- Drug trafficking
- Teaching people how to cheat at gambling
- Grand theft crimes
- Child abuse
- Human trafficking and smuggling of persons
- Gun possession
- Money laundering
- Child pornography
- Aggravated kidnapping
While these are common felonies, this is by no means a comprehensive list of every potential felony charge a person might face. There are also multiple criminal offenses that can be classed as either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the severity of the crime.
If you’re charged with a felony, you might face the following consequences:
- A permanent record, which affects your professional and personal life by showing up in background checks
- Imprisonment in a state prison facility
- Parole or probation
- Fines of up to one million dollars plus restitution, depending on the crime
- Loss of your right to possess firearms and other deadly weapons
- Loss of your right to vote
- Loss of your occupational licensing such as your medical license
The potential consequences for your felony conviction will vary depending on the severity of the charge, the mitigating and aggravating circumstances present in the case, and any prior convictions you have. Additionally, the charges will be affected if you’re currently on probation or if you used a weapon to commit the crime. Some crimes also receive harsher penalties because of the attitude of the court and community toward the crime.
A skilled attorney can negotiate your case to help you avoid as many of these consequences as possible.