If you have been charged with a felony crime or are the subject of a criminal investigation, you should hire a criminal defense lawyer immediately. Felonies are the most serious of crimes, and if found guilty you face at least a year in prison.
In the United States, crimes are broken into two broad categories: A misdemeanor is a less serious crime and a felony is a more serious crime.
Examples of misdemeanors would include theft, disorderly conduct, prostitution, trespassing and vandalism. Examples of felonies would include murder, kidnapping, armed robbery, arson, rape and terrorism. In some instances, a crime may be classified as both a misdemeanor and a felonydepending on its severity. For example, DUI/DWI and assault can result in either misdemeanor or felony charges.
Within each broad category, states may break down crimes into subcategories, sometimes known asdegrees or classes, based on the relative severity of the crime.
Generally speaking, if you are found guilty of a felony, you face at least a year in prison. However, prison sentences can be much longer, and may even result in the death penalty. You may also have to pay fines or other restitution.
Not surprisingly, misdemeanor convictions carry less serious sentences. If found guilty of a misdemeanor, you would face less than a year of imprisonment, and might have a sentence that does not include any jail time. Punishment for a misdemeanor crime can also include fines, probation and/or community service.
In addition, convicted felons face long-term consequences even after they've fulfilled their punishment. Felons can lose the right to vote, work in certain fields, obtain certain licenses and serve on juries.
In some instances, felony convictions will publicly follow you for the rest of your life. People convicted of sexual offenses, for example, are included in state databases that can be easily accessed and searched. Sexual offenders may also be required to tell neighbors about their crimes before moving into a new home.
If you've been investigated, questioned, arrested or charged with a felony crime, you should hire a felony attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can:
Because of the serious consequences of a felony conviction, you should speak to a felony criminal defense attorney as soon as you learn you're the subject of a criminal investigation or immediately after being arrested.