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What is a Felony ?

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July 10, 2023

Being accused of a crime is always something to take seriously, but when the crime in question is a felony, it’s vital to know what you’re up against. At SRD Law Office, female criminal defense attorney, Sallynda Rothchild Dennison knows how to help. In this article we’ll define commonly used terms, share some examples, and let you know how to handle a serious accusation.

Felony vs. Misdemeanor

The United States federal criminal code broadly divides crimes into the categories of felonies and misdemeanors. To make sure we’re all on the same page, let’s define some of these terms:

  • Felony: a serious (sometimes violent) crime that is typically punishable by imprisonment of one year or more (death penalty in states that allow it) and any applicable fines
  • Misdemeanor: an offense that is less serious than a felony, punishable by up to one year in jail in some states (max of 180 days in Ohio) along with applicable fines

Being charged with a felony can lead to arrest and detention, usually with the opportunity to post bail for release as the alleged offender awaits criminal proceedings. With that being said, depending on the offense, even some misdemeanors can result in arrest and detention. The key takeaway is the length of potential time spent behind bars, and whether that is spent in a state prison or a local or county jail.

Misdemeanors are further broken down into five degrees of seriousness, with first degree being punished the most severely, and minor misdemeanors typically meriting a fine only. But here’s an important fact to know: if an offense that would typically be a misdemeanor is part of a pattern of behavior, and thus a repeat offense, or meets certain criteria that elevates the seriousness (e.g. taking place to or in front of a minor), it can instead be handled as a felony.

Common Felony Examples

The following are some of the most common felony examples:

  • Assault felonious assault, aggravated assault, or assault on a police officer 
  • Homicide – taking another’s life or recklessly causing loss of life (e.g. first-degree murder, second-degree murder, third-degree murder, manslaughter)
  • Robbery — when theft is committed along with the threat or use of force
  • Burglary — when entering a building or home with the intent of theft
  • Grand theft – stolen property or services are valued at $1,000+ or property is a motor vehicle or dangerous drug
  • Sexual offenses – rape, human trafficking, child molestation, or child pornography
  • Drug crimes – manufacturing, cultivating, distributing, selling, or trafficking controlled substances
  • Property crimes – malicious destruction, arson, misappropriation of property, and grand theft
  • Financial (“White collar”) crimes – fraud, misrepresentation, identity theft, embezzlement, securities fraud, or tax evasion
  • Repeated DUIs – repeated charges of DUI are upgraded to felony status (in Ohio, four offenses in 10 years or six offenses in 20 years)
  • Indecent exposure – repeated public exposure of one’s private body parts in front of a minor (under 18 in Ohio) can be a felony; also public indecency can lead to being labeled a sex offender
  • Kidnapping – absconding with an individual and holding them against their will; often accompanied with a ransom request or other gains
  • Specific traffic violations – reckless vehicular homicide

While these offenses are almost always reliably regarded as felonies, there are nuances that could lead them to be seen as misdemeanors. For example, simple assault could be classified as a misdemeanor, not a felony. Felonious assault, aggravated assault, and assault on a police officer are all felonies. DUIs under the state limit that don’t harm anyone will typically be seen as misdemeanors. Theft of amounts under $1,000 are classified as misdemeanors, as are most incidents of indecent exposure.

Clearly, there is a lot to consider when walking the line between felonies and misdemeanors. Because of the varying degrees of severity of these crimes, it’s absolutely vital to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney or felony lawyer if you find yourself accused of any of the above felony examples.

Potential Consequences of Common Felony Examples

Criminal codes outline the expected sentence up to a specific maximum when it comes to sentencing those who have been charged with felonies. 

There are other repercussions that individuals convicted of a felony in Ohio could face, including:

  • Losing the right to vote
  • Being unable to hold public office
  • Being prevented from owning firearms and other weapons
  • Being prohibited from holding a professional license
  • Difficulty or impossibility requesting expungement
  • Being listed as a sexual predator

Given the wide array range of applicable prison time, fines, and other restrictions, it’s best to work with an experienced criminal attorney. A seasoned criminal defense attorney in Columbus, Ohio is your best bet to fair representation and reasonable negotiation.

What To Do If You’ve Been Accused of a Felony

Before deciding whether to remain silent or to cooperate with authorities, it’s important to consult with an attorney. If you live in Columbus, Ohio, are facing accusations, and are looking for help from a criminal defense lawyer, consider working with Sallynda Rothchild Dennison at the SRD Law Office. We specialize in helping criminal defendants, and we treat each client with the respect and compassion they deserve. We are dedicated to fair resolutions and don’t back away from litigation. 

SRD Law Office is also proud to provide criminal defense for clients throughout the Columbus area and the state of Ohio in the case of Medicaid fraud. To learn more about our services, see what our clients are saying, or to request a free initial consultation, please contact our team. We look forward to helping you move toward resolution.

SRD Law Office is located in Columbus, OH and serves clients in and around Brice, Groveport, Reynoldsburg, Canal Winchester, Blacklick, Westerville, Summit Station and Franklin County.
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