Does the Federal System Divide Crimes into Misdemeanors and Felonies?

In most states, including Ohio, crimes are generally separated into misdemeanors and felonies. Many state statutes specifically indicate at what level a particular offense may be charged. However, when it comes to federal laws, the section in which a crime is defined does not always specify whether it is a misdemeanor or felony. Does that mean the federal system does not divide offenses into different levels? No. The federal government does have misdemeanors and felonies. When a statute does not say which an offense is, the level is determined by the possible maximum years of imprisonment that can be imposed upon a conviction.

Whether you have been charged with a federal misdemeanor or felony, speak with one of our Dayton attorneys at L. Patrick Mulligan & Associates, LLC about your case. Call (937) 685-7006 or submit an online contact form today.

What’s the Difference Between a Misdemeanor and a Felony?

Not all crimes are the same. Some are more severe than others. For example, murder is much worse than assault.

The designations “misdemeanor” and “felony” and used to distinguish more serious crimes from less serious ones. Generally, misdemeanors are punishable by a shorter period of incarceration and smaller fines. Felonies can result in lengthy prison sentences, high fines, and loss of certain rights and opportunities, such as possessing a firearm or serving in the armed forces.

Often, when people hear or read about a state crime, the charge level is typically mentioned. For instance, Ohio’s assault statute notes that the crime is a first-degree misdemeanor, and the rape law indicates the offense is a first-degree felony.

The same isn’t always true about federal statutes. Instead of the actual level of the offenses listed, the possible punishments may be shown. To illustrate, assault is punishable by not more than 1 year of incarceration.

A federal statute might not say whether a crime is a misdemeanor or felony, but the federal government does divide offenses into different levels.

What Are Considered Federal Misdemeanors?

The federal government defines three classifications of misdemeanors.

If the level and class are not mentioned in the statute, they are determined as follows:

  • Class A misdemeanor: The offense is punishable by more than 6 months but not more than 1 year of incarceration.
  • Class B misdemeanor: The offense is punishable by more than 30 days but not more than 6 months of incarceration.
  • Class C misdemeanor: The offense is punishable by more than 5 days but not more than 30 days of incarceration.

Examples of federal felonies include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Assault: Using force or violence to attempt to cause injury to a federal employee.
  • Drug possession: Having a small amount of a drug in one’s control.
  • Forging military or naval discharge papers: Altering or counterfeiting discharge certificates from the U.S. Armed Forces or using such papers knowing that they are forged or false.

What Are Considered Federal Felonies?

As with misdemeanors, the federal government divides felonies into classification. Except with felonies, there are 5 classes, not three. Again, if the statute does not say the level and class of an offense, they are assigned based on the potential prison sentences.

Below are the felony classifications at the federal level:

  • Class A: The offense is punishable by life imprisonment or death.
  • Class B: The offense is punishable by 25 years or more of imprisonment.
  • Class C: The offense is punishable by 10 years or more but less than 25 years of imprisonment.
  • Class D: The offense is punishable by 5 years or more but less than 10 years of imprisonment.
  • Class E: The offense is punishable by more than 1 year but less than 5 years of imprisonment.

Federal crimes charged as felonies include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Tax evasion: Underreporting or overreporting income or deductions to evade tax obligations.
  • Money laundering: Conducting financial transactions to hide ill-gotten funds or avoid reporting requirements.
  • Drug trafficking: Moving large quantities of controlled substances.

Do You Need a Lawyer for Federal Charges

Big-name federal agencies like the FBI, ATF, and DEA investigate allegations of criminal conduct. Whether a misdemeanor or felony charge, the investigation into the offense can be extensive. Additionally, a U.S. Attorney will prosecute, using the resources at their disposal to attempt to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Having a criminal defense lawyer on your side can level the playing field. Your attorney can look into the matter, build your defense, and go up against a federal prosecutor on your behalf.

Reach Out to Us Today

If you need legal help fighting a misdemeanor or felony federal charge, speak with one of our Dayton lawyers. We pursue available options and leverage our talents to seek favorable outcomes for our clients.

Contact L. Patrick Mulligan & Associates, LLC at (937) 685-7006.