What is a Class a Felony?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 11 February 2020
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A Class A felony is usually a quite serious crime. Many jurisdictions separate crimes into two different categories: felonies and misdemeanors. Felonies are considered the most serious types of offenses, while misdemeanors, which carry lighter penalties, are considered not as bad. Some places have classes of felonies, and each class is given a letter designation. In these cases, Class A is considered the worst of the felonies.

In most places, Class A felonies are not only the most serious types of crimes, but they also carry the most serious penalties. Since this designation is typically reserved for such crimes as murder and rape, punishments are meant to match the seriousness of the crime. For example, some people are given a life sentence in prison, often without possibility of parole, after being convicted of such a crime. Some people who are convicted of such crimes may even receive the death penalty.


The penalty a person receives after being convicted of a Class A felony depends on such factors as the particular crime, the typical penalties given in the jurisdiction, and the judge on the case. In a place that does not currently execute criminals, an individual may be given life in prison for even the most heinous crimes. In another place, however, an individual who is guilty of the same type of crime may be required to perform hard laboring during his sentence. He may, for example, spend much of his imprisonment working on public roads or the jurisdiction’s bridges.

Many jurisdictions set minimum sentences for those convicted of Class A felonies. In some places, for example, a person who is convicted faces at least 10 years in prison but not more than 99 years in a single sentence. Hate crimes may carry minimum sentences of 15 years or more in some places. Using a gun or other deadly weapon during a felony may result in a minimum of 20 years of imprisonment. The same 20-year penalty may apply for sexual crimes in which the convicted person harmed a child; often, higher sentences are given for repeat offenses and particularly heinous acts.

Repeat offenders are often given stiffer penalties than those without prior records. For example, a jurisdiction may impose higher minimum sentences on criminals with a prior felony conviction. Some jurisdictions impose 99-year minimum sentences for those who have two or more prior felony convictions. In other places, however, an individual who is convicted of a Class A felony is automatically given life in prison if he also has a prior record of committing a similarly serious crime.


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Post 5

Strange that convicted felons are deprived of certain rights while those who deprive them of those rights are felons who have not been caught yet!

Post 4

@christym: Convicted felons are not barred from obtaining a passport in the United States. However, when an individual is on parole or probation, they are usually not even allowed to leave the state unless pre-approved by their parole/probation officer.

The convicted felons do often face many restrictions regarding traveling abroad because a lot of countries impose visa requirements on people with criminal records. A visa is considered a privilege. A passport is considered a document that establishes one’s identity as a citizen of their country. Every country has the right to refuse entry to any individual that could be seen as a possible threat, including convicted felons.

Post 3

Can felons travel out of the country or obtain a passport?

Post 2

@stormyknight: Yes, several rights are taken away from the convicted felon. Voting rights are one of the main things that convicted felons lose. Some states will allow the felons to vote again after a waiting period, others require a pardon by the governor of that state, and some states bar the convicted felon of ever voting again.

The right to bear arms is another privilege that is usually taken away from convicted felons. Firearms dealers are required to run background checks before selling guns. Any criminal record will usually bar someone from purchasing a firearm. Different states vary on this issue.

Post 1

Do people who have been convicted of felonies lose their rights?

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