Felony Law: What You Need To Know

The word “felon” is not one that many people want to be associated with. The term not only brings about many legal implications, but also a harsh social stigma. If you are charged with a felony, one possible tactic is to try to reduce your sentence to a misdemeanor.

What is a Felony Versus a Misdemeanor?

Felony crimes are punishable by at least one year in prison. These crimes exist in state and federal court. The main distinguishing factor between a felony and a misdemeanor is the sentencing.  While a felony is crime punishable by at least on year in prison, a misdemeanor is punishable by less than one year in jail. However, it is important to note that felony convictions do not always require that a year or more of incarceration actually be imposed. Simply that the statute provides for such a penalty.

How Do I Reduce My Sentence to a Misdemeanor?

The most common method for reducing a felony to a misdemeanor crime is through plea bargaining. Plea bargaining is the negotiation of a lesser charge in exchange for the defendant’s guilty plea to that charge. Although this does seem like a simple win for the defendant, entering a plea of guilty in exchange for a lesser crime does include downsides. The defendant will be pleading guilty without having the opportunity for his or her case to be heard and the possibility of a not guilty verdict.

Are There Other Options?

Another option is for a defendant to attempt to expunge his or her record. Unlike state law, the federal system does not have a comprehensive set of laws that allow expungement for arrests and conviction records of various offenses. However, the federal expungement statute covers possession of small amounts of certain controlled substances.

Effects of a Felony

The immediate concern of a defendant convicted of a felony is the sentence imposed. This ranges from the previously mentioned one year in prison for less serious felonies to a possible death sentence for more brutal crimes. Felony sentences may also include fines, court fees, restitution, community services, counseling, and supervised probation.  

However, the conviction of a felony does not stop at sentencing.  The effects will be lifelong.  For example, federal law prohibits convicted felons from owning or possessing a firearm. Also, convicted felons may not enjoy the right to vote, may not hold office, or serve on a jury for a period of time following a conviction.  Not only are these rights lost, but the conviction of a felony makes life after jail much more difficult to navigate. Felons often have a difficult time securing employment. Furthermore, felonies that qualify as sex crimes impose a number of concerns regarding registration requirements.  

If you or a loved one has been charged with a felony, it is imperative that you seek assistance immediately. The right to effective counsel begins when the prosecution is initiated with an indictment or formal charge. Therefore, any delay could result in potential harm to your case. The attorneys at Shein & Brandenburg are experienced in the complex issues of felony law and will advocate for you and your case.

If you need assistance with a federal charge, contact us for a free consultation.