In the United States, crimes generally fall under infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies. Infractions and misdemeanors are less serious offenses. Felonies, on the other hand, are more serious. Also, the gravity of the crime determines the severity of the punishment. As such, felonies carry stricter sentences than misdemeanors and infractions.
Most states in the U.S. group crimes into alphabetical classes. This grouping system is generally the case for misdemeanors and felonies. The types show the severity of each offense.
Usually, the classes range from A to D. However, depending on the state, there could be more. The crimes in class A are more severe than those in class B, and so on. As such, class D crimes are less severe crimes in the grouping.
Expectedly, the punishment for the crimes follows the same pattern. Class A sentences are stricter than class B sentences. Therefore, class D has the least harsh punishment out of all four groups.
However, not all states in the U.S. group their crimes from A to D. Some states have more groups in their penal code. In these states, the offenses in group D are not the least severe crimes. They’re likely to be more severe than group D crimes in states with a four-group system.
Other states group crimes using a numeric system. So rather than A to D, you’ll have one to four. However, regardless of the grouping system, the logic remains the same.
What Is a Class D Felony?
Generally, most states in America use a four-class system for grouping felonies. As such, in the U.S., class D crimes are mostly considered less severe offenses. In more precise terms, class D felonies are crimes that don’t involve violence towards another person.
They’re also crimes that aren’t dangerous. Notwithstanding, they’re still felonies and carry strict punishments. However, they’re not as grave as other crimes higher in the grouping system. Also, the crimes considered class D felonies depend on the state. A crime classed under class D in one state could be class C or higher in another state. It could even be lower. It all depends on the state’s penal code.
The punishment could also vary with the state, but class D crimes usually attract a prison sentence of one year. Most states also include fines as punishment. Some states, however, have higher prison sentences.
In Arkansas, felonies range from class A to E. Therefore, class D felonies are more severe than in states with a four-class system. Also, the prison sentence for a class D felony in Arkansas could be as high as six years. Again, in Michigan, class D felonies attract a prison sentence of up to 10 years. In Wisconsin, you could spend up to 25 years in prison for a class D felony.
Classes of Felonies in the United States Federal Law
Typically, most states have four to five classes of felonies in the United States. These states use an alphabetical or numerical system to group these felonies. Each level represents the gravity of the offense committed. Accordingly, the sentence is in unison with the charged crime.
The United States federal law categorizes felonies into five classes. Each class is separated from the next using an alphabetical grouping system. The sentences are also per the crimes committed. Below are the five felony classes in the United States federal law and their respective sentences:
Class A Felonies
Generally, class A felonies are the most severe class of crimes in the United States. As such, they attract the strictest kinds of punishment. An offender can face a life-long prison sentence if convicted of a class A felony. Also, they could pay a fine of up to $250,000.
Class B Felonies
According to the United States federal law, class B felonies attract a prison sentence of 25 years or more. An offender could also pay a fine as high as $250,000.
Class C Felonies
Class C felonies attract a prison sentence of 10 to 25 years. The court could also charge you a fine of up to $250,000.
Class D Felonies
Class D Felony charges in the United States federal law attract a prison sentence of five to ten years. The convicted felon could also pay a fine, similar to the above three classes.
Class E Felonies
Class E felonies attract a prison sentence of one to five years. A convict could pay a fine, similar to the classes mentioned above.
Types of Class D Felonies
The crimes under class D felonies depend on state laws. However, they’re generally crimes that do not involve direct violence to other people. Notwithstanding, some states do include violent crimes among class D felonies. Depending on state laws, here are some examples of class D felonies:
- Insurance or mortgage fraud
- Domestic abuse
- Possession of marijuana or other illegal drugs
- Auto theft
- Vehicular assault
- First-degree arson
- Aggravated sexual abuse
- Driving while intoxicated
Punishments for Class D Felonies
In some states, class D felonies are more serious. As a result, the accompanying punishment is also more severe. Crimes and penalties are not so strict in other states. Generally, the sentences involve jail time and payment of fines. Mandatory drug and alcohol tests and probations could also be part of the sentence. Briefly, we’ll look at the punishment for class D felonies in some states across the United States.
In New York, state laws group felonies into six classes. Class D felonies are some of the less serious crimes. Third-degree robbery, second-degree vehicular manslaughter, and third-degree burglary constitute class D felonies.
Generally, felonies in New York attract a prison time of up to seven years. You could also receive a fine as high as $5,000. Some offenders also receive probation, depending on whether they committed a violent or non-violent class D felony.
In Arkansas, felonies range from class A to E. Class D felonies are among the least serious. Usually, they attract a prison sentence of up to six years, with a fine as high as $10,000. However, the judge could decide to offer some latitude, especially if you’re a first time offender. Thus, you’re more likely to receive probation.
In Missouri, state laws group felonies into four classes. Class D felonies are the least serious in the grouping. For non-violent crimes under class D felonies, you could receive a prison sentence of as high as five years. However, a first time offender could receive punishment as lenient as a payment, house arrest, or probation. If you have previous misdemeanor charges during your conviction of a class D felony, the state charges you with a class C felony.
Wisconsin is one of the states in the U.S. with stricter punishments for class D felonies. The state groups felonies into nine classes, with class D felonies among the least severe. However, the crimes put under that group can attract a prison sentence of up to 25 years. You could also pay a fine as high as $100,000. It could get even stricter for repeat offenders and child sex crimes.
In Connecticut, there are four classes of felonies. Class D felonies are the least serious of the categories. You could receive a prison sentence of up to five years and a fine as high as $5,000 if convicted of a class D felony. However, first-time offenders usually get probation or parole.
In Delaware, there are seven classes of felonies. Also, there are strict punishments for class D felonies. You could face a prison sentence of up to eight years if convicted.
Kentucky state laws separate felonies into four classes. Class D felonies are the least severe crimes. Cultivating or selling marijuana is one of the crimes under class D felonies in Kentucky. You could face a prison sentence of up to five years if convicted of a class D felony.
In Nevada, state laws group felonies under categories, not classes. There are five categories of felonies in the state. Category D ranks among the least severe crimes. Involuntary manslaughter and parental kidnapping are the offenses under this category. You could receive a prison term of around five years and a fine of up to $5,000.
South Carolina state laws group felonies into six classes. Class D to F are the least serious offenses. However, some crimes aren’t in any of the categories. Such crimes are exempted felonies and carry separate punishments. Examples of those crimes are incest, first-degree burglary, and murder.
Also, class D felonies carry strict prison sentences in South Carolina. You could receive a jail term of up to 15 years if convicted. However, no fines are part of the punishments in any of the classes. Notwithstanding, the court has the power to impose a fine as deemed necessary. Among crimes classed under class D felonies are manufacture or distribution of cocaine and third-degree arson.
In Tennessee state laws, there are five classes of felonies. Class D felonies rank among the least serious. You could face a prison sentence of up to 12 years if convicted of a class D felony. You could also receive a fine as high as $5,000. Marijuana possession is among the crimes under class D felonies.
Indiana state laws group felonies using a numerical system. As such, rather than class D felonies, there are class four felonies. These felonies carry a prison sentence of up to 12 years and a fine as high as $10,000. However, murder is an unclassified felony in Indiana. An offender could receive a sentence of 45 to 65 years in prison or, in worse case scenarios, death.
Other Consequences of Committing a Class D Felony
Besides prison sentences and fines, there are other consequences of being convicted for a class D felony. These consequences include a specific loss of rights. Losing these rights will affect your living and working conditions in the United States. Among the rights affected are:
- Right to vote
- Right to serve on a jury
- Housing rights
- Right to bear arms
- Right to hold occupations that require a license
- Right to hold state offices
- Right to enlist in armed service
- Right to certain federal and state aids
Being convicted of a class D felony carries strict consequences even after your prison sentence is over. Working and housing rights could be significantly affected. However, you could work with certain state agencies to find employers and landlords that give jobs and housing to convicted felons.
Can a Lawyer Help?
The consequences of a felony conviction are one of those things you want to avoid. Long after your prison sentence and payment, you could still be suffering the repercussions of your offense. Thus, you must get a criminal defense attorney to handle your case.
A criminal defense attorney used to the local legal system would be advisable. Maneuvering the legal system for a felony charge can be quite tricky. That’s why you need a good lawyer in your case. Hopefully, with the right defense, you could have the consequences of your crime reduced.
Reducing Your Class D Felony Charge to a Misdemeanor
Some states in the U.S. allow you to reduce your class D felony charge to a misdemeanor. That is, the state will treat your offense as a misdemeanor rather than a class D felony. Thus, your crime would carry a lighter sentence.
However, you must meet specific requirements before this can happen. The requirements for reducing your felony charge vary from state to state. Some states have stricter standards than others. In California, you can have your felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor if you haven’t been to state prison for a previous offense.
Also, you mustn’t have committed a previous felony. In Indiana, to have your charge reduced, you mustn’t be a prior sex offender. Again, your offense mustn’t have resulted in bodily harm or injury. When you meet these requirements, your lawyer can help you file for a reduction in your charge.
Clearing Your Criminal Record
Most states in the U.S. usually allow a convict to clear their criminal record. This process is called expungement. Typically, when a person has criminal offenses erased from their history, the crimes are treated as if they don’t exist. That is, they’re no longer in the public record. Expunging a criminal record is essential in the event of getting a house or finding a job after conviction.
Expungement doesn’t apply to all offenses, however. Generally, a person can have minor crimes erased from their criminal record. Felonies, on the other hand, can’t be so easily wiped. Some states do allow a convicted felon to clear some felony charges, though.
These kinds of felony charges are usually non-violent felonies. Still, the rules for expunging criminal records vary from state to state. You’ll need to meet specific requirements to be able to clear your criminal history.
Requirements Necessary for Expunging a Criminal Record
Before getting your criminal record cleared, you’ll need to meet specific requirements. These requirements vary from state to state. Typically, these requirements include:
- Completing a stated waiting period after your sentence. This waiting period varies from state to state. In Indiana, this period is usually around eight years for a felony conviction. Other states may have a longer or shorter period, depending on state laws.
- Evidence of rehabilitation
- Evidence that you don’t have further charges or convictions
- Completing your jail term or paying the required fine tied to your offense
Once you’ve met these requirements, you can file a petition to have your criminal record erased with your lawyer’s help. If you have more than one offense on your file, you’ll have to file a separate petition for each crime. Usually, you can have your record cleared with or without an expungement hearing. In the event of a trial, the court that handled your offense will handle the expungement hearing.
Expungement Laws in the United States
Expungement laws in the U.S. depend on the state. Some states allow felons to clear their criminal record. Others don’t. Some states permit convicts clear specific offenses, while other crimes remain on their record.
Non-conviction and non-violent offenses are some of the cases you can erase according to some state laws. Below are the expungement laws across some states in the United States:
Arizona state laws don’t have provisions for the expungement of a criminal record. However, if you’re not a sex offender or your offense is a non-violent one, it could be set aside by the state.
Arkansas state laws have legal provisions for clearing minor felonies and misdemeanors from your criminal record. Also, you can erase prostitution and drug-related convictions. However, there are no provisions to remove severe violent and sexual offenses.
Connecticut has provisions for clearing non-conviction offenses. However, convicts can also remove pardoned offenses from their criminal record after three years.
In Colorado, state laws allow convicts clear drug convictions, minor felonies, and misdemeanors. They can also clear non-convicted offenses from their record.
Florida state laws have provisions for clearing certain criminal offenses after a ten-year waiting period. Also, first-time non-convicted offenders can have their crimes removed from their records.
In Illinois, you can clear felonies and misdemeanors after a three-year waiting period. However, there are no provisions for certain serious offenses.
In Kansas, felons can’t erase violent and sex-related offenses. However, they can clear other crimes. There are also legal provisions for non-convicted offenses.
Convicts can clear certain felonies and misdemeanors according to Texas state laws. They’re also able to remove first time and non-convicted offenses.