Criminal offenses classified as felonies carry a sentence of more than one year in prison and up to life imprisonment.
Criminal acts classified as felonies include:
- Armed robbery
- Sexual exploitation of minors
- Aggravated battery
- Drug trafficking
- Involuntary manslaughter
- Sexual assault
Felonies are further divided into classes based on their seriousness, with nonviolent offenses ranking lower. The sentence for a crime of this type depends on the class assigned and any prior criminal record. Fraud, theft, and forgery are examples of crimes that may result in felony penalties.
Penalty for a Felony Conviction
The punishment for felonies can range from one year to a life sentence in prison. The death penalty (capital punishment) is a possible punishment in some states and all across the country. In the criminal justice system, a felony offense can lead to a lengthy sentence. The length of a sentence can also be affected by other factors, such as a person’s criminal history.
What is the Process if You Are Charged with a Felony?
If you are charged with a felony and fortunate enough to receive bail and are released, the next step in the criminal justice process is going to court. Prosecutions of felonies begin in district court. In general, low-level felonies are resolved, and charges in district court are reduced through plea agreements.
Alternative Felony Dispositions
An offender may be eligible to receive the following as an alternative to prison, depending on their criminal background:
The defendant will likely submit your case to a grand jury; if the accused cannot resolve their case with the prosecution in district court, the prosecution will likely submit your case to a grand jury. After the grand jury determines that there is probable cause that the accused committed a felony, they will issue an indictment, at which point, the case will be transferred to Superior Court.
The Felony is Moved to Superior Court
After a judge hears the case in Superior Court, there may be a plea agreement with the prosecution. At this point, the accused also have the option to plead not guilty and request a jury trial. If a jury trial is requested, the case will be tried before a jury of 12 randomly selected community members, with a judge presiding. In every criminal trial, the burden is on the state to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
A jury can find that the state has not met the burden of proving that an offender is guilty of committing the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. A judgment of guilty may be levied of a less serious charge or not guilty. If the jury does find the offender guilty, the judge will impose a sentence ranging from probation to an active prison term.