What is a Class 4 Felony?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Defining the class 4 felony poses challenges because its definition varies by jurisdiction. Sometimes this felony is the lowest level felony that can be committed in a region, and other times there are classes below, like 5 and 6, that represent less serious crimes, albeit still felony charges. It’s also important to note that many regions don’t use number classification and instead classify felonies by letter. Letters and numbers don’t always correspond to similar crimes.

Forgery, such as counterfeiting, is a class 4 felony.
Forgery, such as counterfeiting, is a class 4 felony.

Given the differences in the way a class 4 felony is defined, it may relate to varying forms of crimes and correspond to different sentencing structures. In some areas, many white-collar crimes are designated as class 4. These might include things like mail fraud, forgery, fraud, racketeering, and others. Certain domestic crimes could also be considered class 4 felonies such as stalking and violation of restraining orders. Other crimes that might be part of this classification are reckless endangerment or intentional damage of property to a certain dollar amount.

Check forgery may be considered a class 4 felony.
Check forgery may be considered a class 4 felony.

Average prison time for the class 4 felony also varies by region. If a class 4 is the lowest felony charge, time in jail for someone convicted of such a crime might be minimal: possibly 1-4 years at most. Fines may be assessed as well, and these could range from about $10,000-$100,000 US Dollars (USD). Judges often have discretion in determining sentence and may make a punishment lesser or greater depending on how they view the severity of the crime. If class 4 is the lowest felony charge, it’s additionally possible that lawyers may be able to plead down the charge to a misdemeanor.

Many white-collar crimes are class 4 felonies.
Many white-collar crimes are class 4 felonies.

On the other hand, the class 4 felony isn’t always the lowest classification, and many jurisdictions place felonies into six categories. This means class 4 represents more serious crimes and people could be subject to higher sentences and higher fines if convicted of any crime in the class. A few regions impose jail sentences up to 10 years, and may be able to extend that with four or more years of probation thereafter. Fines could exceed $100,000 USD if a judge imposes a maximum sentence.

Anyone convicted of a class 4 felony can expect to face jail time, but the amount of time imposed very much depends on jurisdiction. People who are charged with any form of felony need a skillful defense to either beat the charges or to construct a plea bargain that reduces charges. Those facing these charges should look for attorneys with criminal law experience. In places like the US, federal laws provide people with attorneys, if they cannot afford to retain counsel privately.

Anyone accused of automobile theft who threatened or harmed the vehicle's owner or passengers will nearly always face felony charges.
Anyone accused of automobile theft who threatened or harmed the vehicle's owner or passengers will nearly always face felony charges.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments

anon288817

I'm facing four class 4 felonies. They're non-violent, non-drug charges. How long will I go to jail for on average? It's for shoplifting, mostly.

anon156142

My friend wants to join the National Guard. He has a class 4, 5, and 6 felony. It happened over 16 years ago. I am having a hard time finding out if he can get in or not. I have done some home work, with no avail. I hope he can get in.

Catapult

A friend of mine was recently telling the story of one of his college buddies who got arrested for counterfeiting money and had to go to jail for six or 9 months, something like that. While it was less than a year, I wonder if it counted as a felony or a felony misdemeanor, in cases like that it might also have depended on how much money he had.

DentalFloss

So it sounds to me that some of these Class 4 felonies can count as misdemeanors if your sentencing is short enough, probably explaining why many job applications ask if you have been convicted of any felonies "with the exception of misdemeanors".

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