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Iowa legislature separates felonies into different classes

Readers of this Iowa City criminal defense law blog may be familiar with the terms felonies and misdemeanors. Both felonies and misdemeanors are crimes that the state has deemed punishable through the judicial system. While felony convictions can carry with them serious consequences like incarceration and heavy fines, misdemeanor punishments are usually less severe.

However, even within the category of felonies a person may find himself subject to different possible sentencing outcomes if he is convicted of the crime he accused of committing. In Iowa, felonies are grouped into four categories that are given the distinctions of A, B, C, and D. Class A felonies are considered the most serious while Class D felonies are punishable with less stringent means.

A person who is convicted of a Class A felony will be sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole. Only a pardon or commutation of the individual's sentence will release him from prison, though special considerations may apply when juveniles are convicted of these serious crimes.

Class B and C felonies are generally punishable by periods of incarceration not to exceed 25 years and 10 years, respectively. There are a handful of Class B felonies that are punishable by incarceration for up to 50 years, but since there is a limit on the period of incarceration for those crimes they are not elevated to the level of Class A.

Finally, Class D felonies are generally not punishable with periods of incarceration that last more than 5 years. All classes of felonies may subject convicted individuals to fines and other sanctions, and felonies that have not been specifically grouped into one of the four mentioned designations are generally considered Class D felony crimes.

Facing felony charges of any class is very serious. Individuals who are subject to conviction by the courts of Iowa have the right to work with criminal defense attorneys if they so choose. Attorneys in the area can help their criminal defense clients understand their rights and prepare trial strategies to refute their felony criminal charges.

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J. Dean Keegan and Thomas D. Farnsworth, Attorneys at Law
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