Each state has a complex system for classifying crimes, often making it difficult for residents to accurately anticipate how a crime will be sentenced and punished. The Warner Robins criminal defense attorneys at The Walker Firm walk clients and their families through the criminal sentencing process and let them know exactly what to expect if a guilty verdict is handed down.
An Attorney Explains Common Classification Systems
In determining the punishment in a felony case, each state has its own way of classifying the severity of the crime and administering a sentence.
Classes & Levels
Some states classify felonies into subcategories of crime; states refer to these subcategories as classes or levels. Which subcategory a crime falls into depends on the seriousness of the crime, and each specifies a sentence or sentence range. Since every felony crime falls within one of these classes, a person can know what sentence to expect for each particular crime. Other states classify their crimes in terms of numeric levels instead of classes, but the concept is essentially the same.
Some states do not use subcategories and simply assign a sentence based on the severity of a crime; Georgia is one of these states. For many crimes, the judge will take several factors into consideration before determining a sentence. These include the offender’s past criminal history, their employment record, their family situation, and their current living environment. However, for more serious felonies, Georgia has mandatory minimum sentences the judge must adhere to.
Other states utilize the subcategories system for most crimes, but a select few are subject to the sentencing outlined in the specific statute that defines the crime. For instance, in Colorado many crimes are classified as Level 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6, and, as such, are subject to the sentence specified for each level. However, other crimes may be classified as “unclassified offenses”; in these instances, the statute defining the offense should specify what sentence the crime deserves.
Federal felonies are classified differently than they are at state level. Each federal felony is assigned to one of 43 offense levels, and each criminal defendant is placed into one of six criminal history categories. In a federal felony case, the point at which the two assigned numbers meet is the offender’s sentence range.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a felony in Georgia, the criminal defense attorneys at The Walker Firm can help you navigate both the state and federal felony classification systems. The best way to prepare for your hearing is to know exactly what is at stake. To consult with a Warner Robins attorney today, call (478) 923-4152 or visit their website to schedule a free initial consultation.