Across the US every state has its own system to classify crimes. While this may sound haphazard, most of them are broken down along fairly similar lines.
Generally speaking, the first classification to note is misdemeanors and felonies. It’s the felonies that are the most serious offenses and often come with a jail sentence, or in some very serious crimes, the death penalty. On the other side of the coin are the misdemeanors that usually are categorized as being less serious offenses and come with a jail term of less than a year in the county jail, not a penitentiary.
Past this initial first breakdown of the differences, there are further categories that usually depend on the severity of the crime in question. “An example would be a Class A misdemeanor, which is considered fairly serious and normally comes with a jail term and a fine. However, this varies from state to state,” explained Jeremiah Denslow of Denslow Law in Dayton, Ohio.
Class B misdemeanors may only have jail terms of up to 180 days, and Class C misdemeanors usually just carry fines, but again, these are generalities and this may change from state to state. If a person is charged with one of the above misdemeanors, it’s best to consult with a qualified attorney and have them explain the situation and deal with the charges.
When dealing with felonies, the price tag tends to be higher, and again, variable from state to state. “In felony classifications, the most serious crimes such as first-degree murder are labeled capital felonies. Someone convicted of a capital felony in states that have the death penalty, may get death or life in prison,” added Denslow.
Generally speaking first-degree felonies earn prison for five years to life; second-degree receives no more than 20 years and no less than 2 years; and third-degree felonies tend to get prison terms of no more than 10 years and not less than 2 years. However, having said that, in many instances there are circumstances that may change how an offender is punished. This will have to do with the work of the lawyer who handled the case.
“Generally speaking, in order to figure out what crime fits what classification, the law looks at what the state has on the books, any priors and mitigating or aggravating factors,” outlined Jeremiah Denslow of Denslow Law in Dayton, Ohio. This is where a highly qualified attorney will be able to make a significant difference in the outcome of cases such as this.
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