While felonies are considered the most serious crimes in the United States, they are further divided into different levels of severity. Some states use letters to indicate the level of crime, while others use numbers. In those states that use numbers, a felony 1, or class 1, is typically associated with the most serious, such as murder. A felony 5 crime is a lower level and can include selling controlled substances, using illegal drugs, aggravated battery, and public indecency or disturbance. Other associated felony 5 or class 5 felony charges could include trespassing and various forms of assault.
Assessing the class and sentencing of a felony generally falls within the role of the court. Some types of reckless endangerment, for example, could be designated as a base felony 5 but charged as a more serious felony 4 depending on the impact of the crime on others. Leverage is given both at the discretion of a judge and jury and through the interpretation of the class 5 felony definitions and mitigating factors of the state in which it is committed.
Felony 5 crimes include a range of acts that vary in degree. Legal verbiage often may include a completion of a basic definition of the class of felony by conditionally stating that if the controlled substances, for example, were sold within a certain proximity to a school, and then the felony 5 could become a felony 3. These conditional categories exist in many states within the legal system to weigh the gravity of a felony crime before sentencing. Generally, in any case where a felony is charged, it is advisable to be represented by a bar-certified lawyer.
Fines and sentences for class 5 felonies also vary considerably based on the region of the United States and the mitigating factors of the crime committed. Interpreting the finer points of felony classification generally will impact the sentencing and which level of felony is charged. While a public disturbance charge may result in a small fine and a sentence of several months, another felony 5 charge could lead to required compensation in the thousands of dollars and up to 10 years in prison. Some first-time convictions may not carry jail time.
In terms of an individual’s criminal history and public record, a felony is a felony. If a state defines a crime as a felony 5, the degree of the felony may be increased or lessened during sentencing, but it typically remains a felony rather than being reduced to a misdemeanor. There is variance from state to state when defending and prosecuting felonies. In some cases, felony 5 crimes may be tried in federal court and fall within an even broader jurisdiction.