What Is a Felony?

Criminal codes classify crimes into at least two different kinds—felonies and misdemeanors. Some jurisdictions classify traffic offenses as a third type of crime, known as an infraction, a violation, or something similar. Among these three types of offenses, felonies are the most serious. 

Either the federal government or the state government can charge you with a felony. Both Ohio and the federal government define “felony” as an offense punishable by more than one year of incarceration.

It is possible incarceration that defines a felony, not actual incarceration. Just because you didn’t spend a year in prison doesn’t mean you weren’t convicted of a felony.

The Five Degrees of Felonies in Ohio

Ohio divides its felonies into five classifications, as described below:

F-1 Violations

F-1 Violations

First-degree felonies, or F-1 violations, are the most serious crimes under Ohio law. These crimes include murder, rape, and kidnapping, among others. The base prison sentence for an F-1 violation is 3 to 11 years, plus 5 years of probation. 

If you are a repeat offender, Ohio can incarcerate you for an additional 10 years. You can spend yet another 10 years in prison for offenses such as aggravated murder or involuntary manslaughter. The maximum fine is $20,000. Although Ohio imposes capital punishment for certain murder crimes, there is currently a moratorium on executions.

F-2 Violations

F-2 felonies are violent offenses. Examples include felonious assault or participation in a criminal gang. Although the base prison sentence is 2 to 8 years (plus 5 years of parole), you can face a much longer sentence under certain circumstances. As with F-1 violations, the state treats repeat offenders more harshly.

F-3 Violations

The base sentence for an F-3 felony is 9 to 36 months in prison, plus 3 years of parole. The state can also fine you up to $10,000. The court may impose three years of parole. F-3 sex offenses include 5 years of parole plus sex offender registration. Perjury and bribery are examples of F-3 violations.

F-4 Violations

F-4 violations can result in incarceration for 6 to 18 months. In addition, you face a fine of up to $5,000 and up to 5 years of probation. The theft of a motor vehicle is an example of an F-4 felony.

F-5 Violations

F-5 violations are the least severe felonies, but they are still more serious than misdemeanors. Conviction of an F-5 felony results in 6 to 12 months of imprisonment and a fine of up to $2,500. You could also face up to 5 years of probation after your release. Breaking and entering and theft over $1,000 are two examples of F-5 felonies.

“Wobbler” Offenses

A wobbler offense is an offense that the prosecutor can charge as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Possession of certain kinds of illegal drugs, for example, can be prosecuted as a felony or as a misdemeanor based on your prior criminal record. It is in circumstances like these where the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney can be critically important. 

Federal Felonies

Federal crimes are classified as follows: 

  • Class A felonies: Murder or bank robbery, for example. The maximum penalty is life imprisonment or death.
  • Class B felonies: Voluntary manslaughter or distribution of narcotics, for example. The maximum penalty of 25+ years in prison. 
  • Class C felonies: Involuntary manslaughter or endangering a child, for example. The maximum penalty is.10-25 years in prison.:
  • Class D felonies: Driving on a revoked license, for example. The maximum penalty is 5-10 years in prison.
  • Class E felonies: Attempt crimes, for example. The maximum penalty is 1-5 years in prison.

The maximum fine is $250,000 for all classes of crimes. Typically, both possible and actual sentences for federal crimes are harsher than sentences for state crimes. 

Felony Conviction Civil Disabilities

As a convicted felon, you face several penalties in addition to a prison sentence and a fine. These penalties include:

  • A ban on voting (only while you are incarcerated).
  • You cannot serve on a jury.
  • You cannot carry a gun.
  • You may be required to register as a sex offender.
  • You become ineligible for certain federal benefits such as food stamps and student loans.

You can petition to restore some of these rights, such as the right to carry a firearm, if you meet certain qualifications.

Sex Offender Registration

Sex offender registration is perhaps the most onerous burden that you might face after completing your sentence. You only have to register as a sex offender if you were convicted of certain sex-related crimes. Bank robbers and murderers, for example, do not have to register as sex offenders unless their crimes include sexual offenses. 

As a convicted sex offender, you must register for anywhere from 10 years to life, depending on the nature and severity of your crime. Your address and photograph will be publicized, and you will have to re-register periodically to update your information. You might face restrictions on where you can live or work.

The Clock is Ticking

Ohio prosecutions move quickly, and federal prosecutions move even more quickly. Missing a deadline, or preparing a hurried response, could result in disastrous consequences. If you are facing felony charges, you need a criminal defense lawyer to represent you from the very beginning. Contact us at our law firm, Suhre & Associates DUI and Criminal Defense Lawyers, today at (513) 333-0014 to see how we can help.