Major Felonies & Their Implications

Major felonies refer to any number of criminal charges arising from what are deemed serious offenses. Major felonies also carry a significantly greater penalty through either a monetary fine or a term of imprisonment. Retaining Legal counsel familiar with felony system and potential penalties is essential to mounting defense to charges arising from this class of offense. A felony conviction may carry implications beyond the punishment handed down by the court such as:

• Disenfranchisement or the loss of the right to vote
• Exclusion from federally funded housing or benefits
• A ban on the purchase and ownership of firearms
• Exclusion from certain occupations and professions.

Under New York law, the offenses classified as major felonies coincide with a letter classification. All Felonies range in classification from ‘A’ to ‘E’ with the ‘A’ crimes as the most serious with a minimum sentence ranging from one year to 15 years for the base offense. §70.02 of the New York Penal Code establishes maximum term of sentence for major felonies:

2. Maximum term of sentence. The maximum term of an indeterminate sentence shall be at least three years and the term shall be fixed as follows:
(a) For a class A felony, the term shall be life imprisonment;
(b) For a class B felony, the term shall be fixed by the court, and shall not exceed twenty-five years;
(c) For a class C felony, the term shall be fixed by the court, and shall not exceed fifteen years;
(d) For a class D felony, the term shall be fixed by the court, and shall not exceed seven years; and
(e) For a class E felony, the term shall be fixed by the court, and shall not exceed four years.

Additionally, the New York Penal Law contains a number of enhanced penalties for multiple felony offenders, “persistent felony offenders,” violent offenders and drug offenses involving trafficking..

The Federal criminal justice system also contains a felony offence classification. 18 U.S.C. § 3559 outlines the classification of federal felonies by the maximum term of imprisonment authorized. The classifications are as follows:
• Class A Felony – life imprisonment or death
• Class B Felony – twenty-five years or more
• Class C Felony – less than twenty-five years but ten or more years
• Class D Felony – less than ten years but five or more years
• Class E Felony – less than five years but more than one year

Under federal law, major felonies may also carry an enhanced penalty if the defendant used a firearm in the commission of a crime, or the offender’s criminal history is substantial enough to be classified as a career offender. Furthermore, crimes involving violence or “violent felonies” may enhance a defendant’s penalty if convicted.

Violent felonies consist of:

• Murder;
• Voluntary manslaughter;
• Assault with intent to commit murder;
• Assault with intent to commit rape;
• Aggravated sexual abuse and sexual abuse;
• Abusive sexual contact;
• Kidnapping;
• Aircraft piracy;
• Robbery;
• Carjacking;
• Extortion;
• Arson;
• Firearms use;
• Firearms possession
• Attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any of the above offenses; and
• Any other offense punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years or more involving the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person of another.

For more information, please visit our major felonies page.

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