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What is a Class A Felony?

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In states that classify crimes by letter, a Class A felony is the most serious offense and carries the most serious penalties. Typical Class A felony offenses are heinous crimes like murder, rape, and terrorism that are punishable by life imprisonment and even death. Sentences are defined by court as either indefinite (life with or without the possibility of parole) or definite (a specific number of years). In states like Alabama, imprisonment includes hard labor which is defined as labor on public roads, public bridges and other public works in the county.

Class A Felony Sentences and Enhancements

Persons convicted of Class A felonies face a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum of 99 years. If the offense is motivated by hate the minimum sentence will be enhanced to 15 years. In cases where the person used or attempted to use a firearm or deadly weapon during the crime the minimum sentence is enhanced to 20 years. If the offense involved a criminal sex offense with a child, the minimum sentenced is also enhanced to 20 years.

Class A Felony Habitual Offenders

  • If the person convicted of a Class A felony has any prior felony convictions the minimum sentence is enhanced to 15 years.
  • If the offender has any two prior felony convictions the minimum sentence enhancement is 99 years.
  • If the offender has any three prior felony convictions with none of them being a Class A felony they must be sent to prison for life, or sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. The court will decide which.
  • If the offender has a prior Class A felony conviction, the court must sentence him to life without the possibility of parole.

Class A Felony Fines and Restitution

Fines are a set amount established by the court at not more than 60,000. A Class A felon will also incur a 30 percent surcharge. Restitution is ordered by the court for damages and expenses and is to be paid when the felon is released from prison, unless there is income while s/he is incarcerated.

*The laws and penalties regarding felony classes and offenses vary for each state, however Alabama law presents a fair and clear representation of penal law, and is used in this article to offer a basic understanding of the Class A felony. The information contained in this article should not be construed as legal advice, and those accused of a Class A felony should seek legal counsel immediately.

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