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Understanding Class D Felonies

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Class D felonies are on the lower end of the range of serious crimes and sentencing rules vary from state to federal Class D crimes. 

Class D Felonies - Federal Crimes

There is a guideline for federal crimes that judges refer to, though federal judges have considerable discretion in sentencing. Under those federal guidelines, a Class D felony is generally a lower-level crime, such as distribution of drugs near a school or Internet solicitation across state lines. The guidelines for Class D felonies call for sentences between 5 and 10 years in prison, a maximum fine of no more than $250,000 or both.

Class D Felonies - State Crimes

On the state level, a Class D felony is a serious crime because it has risen above the misdemeanor level. A misdemeanor is a crime that is punishable by no more than six months in jail, in addition to the possibility of a fine. Many states rank both misdemeanors and felonies by assigning letters from A to F. The most serious crimes - whether they are misdemeanors or felonies - are Class A crimes. Examples of Class A felonies include rape and murder. Class D crimes are generally in the lowest grouping of felony crimes in a state.

Class D Felonies - Sentences

The sentences for Class D felonies can vary significantly from state to state. In Indiana, for example, Class D felonies call for six months to three years in jail and include crimes such as theft and drug possession, where the amount of narcotics is below a certain level. In Missouri, Class D felonies are part of the lowest tier of felony crimes, similar to the federal system. But in Missouri, you would face up to four years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000 if convicted of a Class D felony. Examples include writing a bad check, as well as other crimes of fraud. One important issue with state sentences for Class D felonies is that virtually all states in the country have rules that allow for much more serious sentences for repeat offenders, based on research that indicates 90 percent of all crimes are committed by 10 percent of all criminals. That means a Class D felony, combined with other previous convictions, could lead to a sentence similar to a Class A or Class B felony.

The information contained in this article should not be construed as legal advice, and those facing a felony charge should seek counsel immediately.

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