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A felony charge is an accusation levied against a person who is believed to have committed a serious violation of a public law. Crimes, or illegal acts, may be broken down into three basic categories: petty offenses, misdemeanors and felonies. A felony charge may result from acts such as murder, rape or kidnapping. Felonies are typically categorized according to their degree of severity. A convicted felon will sometimes have more restrictions placed upon his rights than someone who has been charged and found guilty of a lesser crime.
If a government decides to file charges against the suspected perpetrator of a crime and they are proven guilty, punishment is typically imposed. Petty offenses are minor infractions that do not warrant jail time. Instead, those who commit petty offenses such as driving above the speed limit or parking in a restricted zone will usually receive a ticket and be required to pay a fine. Misdemeanors are more serious than petty offenses, but far less grave than felonies. Those who are found guilty of a misdemeanor, such as simple assault or driving without a license, may be punished by a fine and up to one year in a local jail.
Felonies are the most serious types of crimes, and the punishment is equally severe. A person found guilty of a felony charge may be sentenced to a year or more in a local or national prison. Those who are found guilty of capital offenses such as murder may receive life in prison or a sentence of death. Different areas usually have different punishments for those facing a felony charge. Prison sentences are usually given at the discretion of the court and guided by the applicable laws of a certain area.
Felony charges can range from burglary and drug crimes to murder. In the United States, there are roughly six classes that most felonies fall into, with a Class 1 being the most serious. A Class 1 felony may call for a minimum sentence of life in prison and a maximum sentence of death. A Class 6 felony might have a minimum sentence of one year in prison. Some jurisdictions classify felonies A, B, and C, with a Class A felony being the most severe. Most felonies come with relatively high fines, sometimes $10,000 US Dollars (USD) or more.
Some convicted felons lose their citizenship rights and may be deported if they are not legal residents of the country where the felony charge was incurred. In some areas, convicted felons may not be able to vote, become attorneys or teachers or own a firearm. Employers may have the legal right to inquire about a prospective employee's felony conviction record, which can make it difficult for a convicted felon to find employment.