Criminal charges are generally split into four different categories, based on the severity of the crimes themselves. These categories are, from least serious to most serious: infractions, misdemeanors, felony-misdemeanors, and felonies. Receiving a felony conviction can lead to devastating consequences professionally, legally, and personally, and these sorts of convictions are life changing for most people. A felony conviction makes many aspects of life more difficult, however, some of the consequences can be lessened through certain legal strategies.
What is a Felony, Exactly?
Felony is an umbrella term for certain types of crimes, usually considered the most serious, that result in a prison term of one year or more. Many types of crimes can be classified as felonies, including murder, arson, fraud, sexual assault, obstruction of justice, and others.
State vs. Federal Felonies
Felony convictions differ depending on the jurisdiction of the crime committed. A crime may be classified as a federal felony if it took place on government property or across state lines. In addition to the difference in classification, federal felonies tend to carry stronger consequences and are treated more seriously. The people or entities involved in the alleged crime can also inform whether the crime is classified as a state or federal felony. For example, if the crime is committed by a federal worker or involves a federal service such as Medicaid, it is likely the crime will be tried as a federal felony.
Felonies in Wisconsin
In the state of Wisconsin, felonies are separated into classes. The classes of state felonies in Wisconsin are A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, and I. These classes are defined as follows:
- Class A Felonies: These are the most serious crimes you can be convicted for in the state of Wisconsin and the sentencing usually involves life in prison. Premeditated murder is an example of a Class A felony.
- Class B Felonies: These are felonies that involve sentences of up to 60 years in prison. An example is first degree sexual assault of a minor.
- Class C Felonies: Starting with Class C felonies, fines are included as a potential part of sentencing. Class C felonies result in convictions of up to 40 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $100,000. An example of a Class C felony is possessing cocaine with the intent to sell it.
- Class D Felonies: Class D Felonies result in convictions of up to 25 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $100,000. An example of a Class D felony is a hit and run accident involving a fatality.
- Class E Felonies: These are felonies with sentences that include up to 15 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $50,000. An example of a Class E felony in Wisconsin is aggravated battery.
- Class F Felonies: Class F felonies result in up to 12 and a half years in prison and/or a fine of up to $25,000. An example of a Class F felony is armed stalking.
- Class G Felonies: These felonies come with a sentence of up to 10 years in prison and the same potential fine as Class F felonies. An example of a Class G felony in Wisconsin is 2nd degree reckless endangerment.
- Class H Felonies: These felonies are punishable by up to 6 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. An example of a Class H felony is theft between $5,000 and $10,000.
- Class I Felonies: Class I felonies can result in 3 and a half years and prison and/or the same fines as Class H felonies.
Many crimes fall under the umbrella of a felony conviction, but the severity of the crimes that can be classified as felonies ranges from relatively serious to extremely serious. However, this does not necessarily impact the social or professional consequences of felony convictions, as the public still looks at all felonies as negative markers towards the overall quality of a person.
The Impact of a Felony Conviction on Your Life
Although the sentences associated with felony convictions are enough to change a person’s life forever, there are other societal and professional consequences that can last past the duration of the sentence. Here are some of the aspects of your life that can be changed drastically by a felony conviction:
- Voting: Felons lose the right to vote until they have completed the sentence they received for the felony they convicted. That means a felon with a Class A conviction will never be able to vote again.
- Bearing Arms: A person convicted of a felony can never legally carry a firearm again, even for hunting. In fact, if a felon is caught with a firearm, that is a felony itself.
- Jury Duty: Convicted felons cannot serve on jury duty until they have completed their sentence.
- Employment: A felony will show up on your employment record and the law does not prevent employers from asking about the criminal history of their applicants. An employer may be able to deny you the job, especially if the felony you were convicted of directly relates to the tasks the job requires. You may even become ineligible for professional licenses.
Drug offenses have especially tough consequences. If convicted of a drug related felony, you cannot receive federal financial aid for a certain duration of time, depending on the severity of your conviction. You may also become ineligible for federal welfare benefits, such as federally subsidized housing and healthcare.
Reducing a Felony Conviction
Although facing a felony conviction is extremely intimidating and might leave you feeling hopeless, there are some legal strategies that can be tried to potentially lower your conviction to something less serious, like a misdemeanor. If you plead guilty or no contest to a felony accusation, you could potentially receive a more lenient sentence. Arrangements like these are sometimes favored by prosecutors and the court system (depending on the severity of what you’ve been accused of) because they save a significant amount of time. Another benefit of this arrangement is that you have some level of control over the outcome of your case. Plea agreements take away the risk of a more severe jury sentencing.
Contact a Lawyer Today
If you are facing a felony conviction, becoming educated about the process and understanding the potential outcomes will be helpful during your case. At the Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella, Attorney Cherella provides clients with expert legal services backed by over 20 years of experience in litigation. His experience ranges from simple infractions to high-level felonies, and each of his clients is treated with respect and dignity regardless of the accusations against them. Contact him today at (414) 882-8382 or via his contact page.