All states tend to participate in what could be thought of almost as a ranking system for crimes committed within that state, including the law as applied in Birmingham, Alabama. The basic general distinction between types of crimes consists of classifying crimes as either a felony or a misdemeanor. Felonies tend to be far more serious crimes and result in lengthier prison sentences, whereas a misdemeanor is usually less serious and might be punishable by jail time under a year. The further ranking of crimes, specifically felonies, by level allow for the legislature or other administrative bodies to create sentencing guidelines appropriate to the particular crimes within a given class.
In Alabama, the legislature charged the Alabama Sentencing Commission a number of years ago to review the state's sentencing guidelines and help ensure that sentencing for crimes was consistent and matched the severity of the crime committed. In some cases, recommendations from the Alabama Sentencing Commission have encouraged the legislature to take certain actions, such as recently creating Class D Felonies within the state. This article contains basic information regarding the different classes of felonies in Alabama.
Class A Felonies
The crimes that are included in this group are considered the most severe crimes. Types of crimes that qualify as a Class A Felony include but are not limited to:
- First-degree kidnapping
As you can see with the last example of this class of crime, some crimes are qualified by degrees in addition to being classified by type of felony. These degrees have specific elements that must be proven in order to prove the severity of the type of crime in question. A criminal defense attorney can help you understand the differences between different degrees of crimes that may be graded by degree.
Class B Felonies
The crimes here are considered slightly less severe than those listed above, but still have serious consequences that come with conviction. Some examples of crimes that qualify as a Class B Felony include but are not limited to:
- First-degree Manslaughter
- Second-degree kidnapping
- First-degree Assault
Again, the type of degree attached to a specific crime has a large impact on what class that crime fits into, and specific elements that must be proven in order to reach different degrees of a crime.
Class C Felonies
For a long time, Class C Felonies were the lowest ranking of crimes qualifying as a felony in Alabama. With recent changes to Alabama's felony classification system, crimes in the class include but are not limited to:
- Criminally negligent homicide
- Second-degree reception of stolen goods
Each of these crimes also has specific elements that must be proven based on the circumstances of the crime.
Class D Felonies
Recent movements toward unburdening the justice system and lessening penalties for certain crimes have created the need for a new felony class. Alabama has recently added this class of crimes qualifying as felonies, and they now constitute the least severe crimes that still qualify as felonies. Crimes that qualify as a Class D Felony include but are not limited to:
- Fourth-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument
- Third-degree theft of property
- Third-degree reception of stolen goods
The punishment for these crimes is usually less severe, and commission of these crimes does not qualify a person as a habitual offender, though there are some exceptions to the severity of sentencing depending on a person's prior criminal history.
Legal Assistance with Felony Charges - Contact a Birmingham Criminal Defense Attorney
Regardless of the degree of the felony charge, a felony has serious consequences that could include life in prison and extremely large fines. It is important that you take felony charges seriously, and that means having a serious criminal defense attorney to work with you on your defense. If you or a loved one are facing felony charges, contact the criminal defense team at Eversole Law to schedule a consultation about your case. You will be able to find out more information about the charges being faced as well as potential consequences if such charges result in a conviction. You will also be able to explore the unique circumstances of your situation with an attorney experienced in handling criminal defense issues.