What Is a Class 2 Felony?
In the six states that divide felonies into numbered categories, a Class 2 felony is an extremely serious crime. States with Class 2 felonies include Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Nebraska, South Dakota and Virginia. Examples of Class 2 felonies include:
- Creating child pornography – Arizona
- Murder – 2nd degree – Colorado
- Sexual assault – Nebraska
- Criminal transmission of HIV – Illinois
- Burglary – 1st degree – South Dakota
- Human trafficking – Virginia
Maximum and Minimum Sentences
The presumptive sentencing range for Class 2 felonies varies considerably from state to state. For example, the presumptive range calls for a maximum of 5 years in prison in Arizona and 3 to 7 years in Illinois. However, the range in Virginia is 20 years to life and 1 to 50 years in prison in Nebraska. Fines, which can accompany prison sentences for Class 2 felonies, range from a high of up to $1 million in Colorado to $100,000 in Virginia.
If you are facing prosecution for a Class 2 felony, you should have an experienced criminal attorney at your side. An attorney can emphasize any factors in your favor – such as no previous record or a passive participation in the crime. Unfortunately, it is common for Class 2 felonies to qualify for enhanced sentences because of the circumstances of the crime. Most states enhance penalties for crimes of violence, crimes involving children, repeat offenders and sex crimes. Those are some of the most serious crimes and many are Class 2 offenses. For example, someone with a previous conviction of a non-dangerous crime faces a minimum sentence of 6 years in Arizona and that increases to 14 years if the current Class 2 crime is a dangerous offense. Courts are only allowed to deviate from presumptive guidelines in Colorado for five reasons, which include crimes of violence or crimes with aggravating circumstances. In Illinois, enhanced penalties are possible when other aggravating factors are present, including a victim over the age of 60, prior convictions and the commission of a hate crime.
Loss of Rights and Benefits
As soon as you are convicted of a Class 2 felony, you will lose the following rights:
- Receive permits or licensees necessary to hold some occupations, such as lawyer, accountant and dentist.
- Qualify to run for state office
- Own or possess a firearm
- Vote – except for Colorado and Illinois
- Eligibility for low-cost housing and federal assistance, such as Food stamps, with a drug conviction.
- Serve on a jury
A Class 2 felony is a serious crime and the collateral consequences of any felony criminal record are extensive and can last a lifetime. Some rights lost as a result of a felony conviction are automatically restored when the sentence is completed, including the payment of fines and any parole obligation. In Arizona, for example, the right to vote, serve on a jury and run for office all are automatically restored. However, the process varies significantly from state to state. In Virginia, a felon must apply for a restoration of rights from the governor. Many civil rights, can only be restored with an expungement or a pardon from the governor.
Employment and Housing with a Felony Record
Experts say it takes patience for felons to get decent jobs and suitable housing. The problem is that virtually all potential landlords and employers check the criminal history of applicants – similar to credit checks. Experts say checking with state agencies for training programs is a great way to pick up marketable skills and sometimes can lead to a job placement. In the area of housing, it’s often a good idea to stay away from large complexes and apply instead to landlords with only one or two apartments. Individuals can be much more flexible than a large corporation.
Clearing Your Record
It can be very difficult to remove a Class 2 felony conviction from someone’s criminal record. Most states have expungement laws; however, those laws commonly do not apply to felony convictions. That’s the case in Nebraska and Virginia. Illinois has recently revised its expungement law to include a small number of Class 2 felonies – including burglary and some drug crimes. It’s a good idea to have the help of an experienced criminal attorney. If an expungement is not available, virtually all states allow convicted felons to request a pardon from the governor. However, pardons are approved in only a small percentage of cases and there can be a lengthy waiting period before an application will be accepted. For example, there is a 10-year waiting period before applying for a pardon in Virginia.
This article is for informational purposes only. If you need legal advice, you should consult an attorney.