Every state is different when it comes to classifying certain crimes. A crime that is considered a felony in one state may only make it to misdemeanor status and another. When you’re trying to understand a class D felony, it’s important to understand which state you are referring to.
Not every state offers this type of classification when it comes to felonies. For example, New York has a classification system that labels certain felonies as class A, B, C, D, and E. A class D felony in New York is considered the least serious, just one step above a misdemeanor.
Other states label felonies by number order, rather than letter. So what is a class D felony, in certain states?
Approximately one third of the states in the United States have a classification system and a class D felony. In Delaware, for example, burglary in the second degree is considered a class D felony. In North Carolina, if you were to board a train and rob it, that would be considered a class D felony, though that type of crime is not as common today as it used to be 100 years ago.
In Wisconsin, if a person is attempting to entice a child, either into their vehicle, home, or soliciting them for sexual favors, that can be a class D felony. In Michigan, if a person is to steal something, or a number of possessions, that are valued at more than $20,000, this would be classified as a class D felony. In Kentucky, felony drunk driving is a class D felony.
What about a class D felony in New York?
As with most other states, a class D felony is considered one step below a class C felony. It is still a very serious charge that is reserved for significant crimes. One of the significant differences in New York when it comes to a class D felony is that crimes that were committed and charged under this classification do not tend to hold the same type of malice as more serious, higher grade felony cases.
Various types of fraud, robbery, theft, and in some cases manslaughter may be considered class D felonies in New York. In this state, a person who either pleads guilty or is found guilty of a class D felony would serve less than five years per charge. Keep in mind that this is a general average and certain factors can impact sentencing. Those factors can include previous convictions, intention, weapons that may have been used during the commission of a crime, and more.
The states that use a letter classification system for various felonies include:
- Nebraska (though there classification system is more complicated)
- New Hampshire
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
Another way to think about a class D felony is to consider it as a level 4 felony. The seriousness of the crime as well as extenuating circumstances can influence a prosecutor’s decision to seek a felony D conviction as opposed to a felony E4 or felony C conviction.
What should you do in the event you are charged with a class D felony?
The first thing anyone should do when they are being charged with a crime is to seek competent legal representation. For those of you who may have limited financial resources, a public defender may be assigned to work with you on your case. In that particular situation, it is imperative that you understand the charges that have been allayed against you, be honest about what happened (keeping in mind that your lawyer is bound by confidentiality so whatever you tell him or her will remain between you and that lawyer), and avoid being combative, either with your lawyer or with the prosecutors.
You may also need to have somebody post bail if you are imprisoned at the moment. If you have somebody you care about who has been arrested and charged with a class D felony, don’t let the classification system fool you: it is an extremely serious situation.
In some states it is one step above a misdemeanor it in others it is two or more steps above a misdemeanor. If somebody is found guilty (convicted) of a felony, it can affect them for the rest of their life (DMV). It is highly unlikely they would ever be successful at having the conviction expunged or sealed from their permanent, public record.
They may lose the right to vote, they will lose the right to own a firearm, they may not be able to hold public offers, and it can make finding employment or housing extremely difficult. Just because a class D felony, in New York or anywhere else, doesn’t sound nearly as serious as a first degree felony, it should be treated as the most important thing to focus on at this time.
A conviction for a class D felony can alter the course of a person’s life