What Are the Different Felony Punishments?

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  • Written By: R. Kimball
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 26 February 2020
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Felony punishments differ by jurisdiction. Felonies are considered serious crimes and generally have punishment guidelines set by law. Most jurisdictions break felony punishment guidelines down based upon violent or non-violent crimes and the magnitude of the crime committed. Felony punishments generally include some amount of imprisonment and a fine along with certain limitations placed upon a felon once the original punishment has been served.

Regional and local governments regulate felony punishments. Regional courts use the same regulations to implement punishments. Each locality creates its own felony punishments. The number of tiers of felonies may differ by jurisdiction.

Generally, the lowest level of felony conviction requires the convicted felon to serve some amount of time in a prison or jail and pay a fine limited to a certain dollar amount. Each jurisdiction determines whether or not the time to be served may be waived by the court. If the individual’s time to be served is waived by the court, the individual is still considered a felon and may be placed on parole.

As the seriousness of the crime increases, so too does the punishment associated with the crime. Each jurisdiction breaks its crimes down into different categories. Some jurisdictions have a large number of categories, whereas other jurisdictions have only a few. Some jurisdictions have a death sentence for capital crimes whereas other jurisdictions limit the punishment to life in prison.


Felony punishments do not stop with the immediate punishment for the crime. After a felon is released from prison, he or she must identify himself or herself as a felon whenever such information is requested. Employers, landlords, and other organizations may discriminate based upon a person’s criminal background.

Each felon faces a variety of additional consequences following conviction for a felony. Some jurisdictions remove the felons' right to vote in any election. Felons might not be permitted to serve on a jury. Certain licenses, permits, and visas will not be granted to a felon. Some jurisdictions will not permit felons to purchase firearms of any kind.

As a part of a felon’s parole agreement, the felon is required to maintain employment and housing. If the felon fails to meet the requirements, he or she may be returned to prison. It is sometimes difficult for the felon to meet these requirements, as landlords and employers may not rent to or hire felons, and certain jurisdictions do not allow felons to receive housing or welfare assistance.


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