It can certainly be an emotional trauma for you or somebody you care about to be charged with a second degree felony. When you hear the term ‘second degree felony,’ you might not know exactly what it means. Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place to find out exactly what is a second degree felony.
It is one of the more serious offenses a person can commit. Every state is different and may define certain felony degrees a bit differently from other states, but overall the penalties and fines for a second degree felony are generally similar from one state to the next.
For the most part, a second degree felony will be reserved for the most serious crimes, including aggravated assault, attempted murder, intoxicated manslaughter, burglary, aggravated battery, assault with a dangerous weapon, and more. For example, in New Jersey, aggravated arson is considered a second degree felony whereas it may not be considered that severe in another state.
In Florida, aggravated battery is classified as a second degree felony, but it may not be the same in New York or some other state. Overall, though, most states do have a tendency to agree on the range of crimes that can be classified as second degree felonies. You may also hear people refer to these crimes as a felony of the second degree. It doesn’t matter what is called, it is still a very serious crime.
The biggest differences between states when it comes to a second degree felony.
Maximum and minimum sentences can vary greatly from one state to the next, even for similar crimes, such as burglary. On average, though, the vast majority of states in the United States have a presumptive punishment of 10 to 15 years in prison for somebody who is convicted of a second degree felony. However, in Ohio, a second degree felony can carry an upper range of no more than nine years in prison. In Pennsylvania, a second degree felony cannot lead to more than 10 years in prison.
In Texas, a person who is convicted of a second degree felony can face anywhere between 2 and 20 years in prison, making it one of the harsher penalties found throughout the United States for this level of felony. Every single state, though, can also impose monetary fines as part of their punishment.
A judge can choose whether or not to impose a fine as part of the sentencing, but those fines can range anywhere between $10,000 and $150,000 for a second degree felony.
Don’t mistake these sentencing recommendations.
Just because states have certain presumptive sentences and guidelines for various crimes, that doesn’t mean a person who is facing a second degree felony is not going to be serving more time than what is listed as a presumptive sentence. There are many factors that go into a judge’s determination about what kind of sentence to impose to a particular defendant.
For example, there can be certain factors that occurred during the commission of the crime that can impact the ultimate sentence a person receives. If there were aggravating circumstances, such as using a firearm during the commission of a crime, that can lengthen the sentence a person receives. If the individual led police on a high speed pursuit that resulted in an accident and/or injuries, that could also increase the sentencing that the judge hands down.
If the defendant has had previous felony convictions, the judge might be able to take that into consideration and move the sentencing guidelines to a higher range. For example, in the state of Pennsylvania, if somebody is convicted of aggravated battery, and has previously been convicted of other violent crimes, the presumptive sentence will shift from a maximum of 10 years to a minimum of 10 years. That could lead to a person being sentenced for up to 25 years in prison for a second degree felony conviction.
What else could constitute as a felony 2nd degree?
There are certain crimes that may carry a second degree felony charge and potential conviction, including sexual assault, which can include rape or sexual molestation (Tennessee Department of Corrections). If somebody committed burglary in a building where no one else was present, that could constitute a second degree felony. Finally, if a person holds a minor child against their will, this can be considered false imprisonment of a minor.
It could be a parent, step-parent, guardian, or somebody else who may be attempting to discipline the child, but that decision could potentially result in a second degree felony conviction.
Know your rights.
If you or somebody you know is being charged with a second degree felony, it is absolutely essential that they understand their rights. They have the right to legal counsel. For those who can’t afford a lawyer, a public defender would be assigned to work with them. Public defenders often don’t have a significant amount of experience or ability to adequately defend certain clients, though.
If there is any way possible, you or somebody else should do whatever you can to secure a more experienced and accomplished legal representative for this serious crime.