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The following is for informational purposes only

What is a Class D Felony?

There are many sorts of crimes worldwide, so there are many ways to classify them. In the United States, individual states can formulate what they think are equivalent punishments for certain crimes. Part of the way many choose to do this is by implementing a classification or levels system to organize crimes.

Eighteen states choose to organize their crimes in terms of their severity. Crimes committed in these states are going to fall into a "class" or a "level"; they also will have a "degree" or a "sub-level", usually signified by a letter or number.

The most severe crimes committed in these states (i.e., rape or murder) would be Class A or Level 1. Crimes committed of a lesser offense could be Class B or C, or they could be Level 2 or 3. In truth, many of these classification states stop their categories at Class C or Level 3. Those states consider all crimes of C/3 and lower to be of the same severity, thus not separating them further.

What Crimes Count as a Class D Felony?

If Class A crimes are the vilest and most terrible crimes one can commit, what would Class D be? Generally speaking, Class D felonies are crimes that carry criminal charges but do not necessarily have a victim; they are usually non-violent and not physical. Here is a list of crimes that can fall into Class D-type felonies:

  • Online or in-person stalking
  • Forgery or bribery
  • Bank fraud, larceny, or embezzlement
  • Promoting or engaging in prostitution or revenge porn
  • Auto theft, petty theft, or shoplifting
  • Evading capture or resisting arrest
  • Driving under the influence

Why is My Class D Crime being Charged as a Class C Crime?

For judges to find justice for victims of crimes, they must consider all elements of a crime. Thus, a few universal aspects of crimes rack up severity. Multiple occurrences of these elements are a strong enough reason to increase a crime’s classification and, by extension, its punishment. These are some of the factors that can increase a crime’s severity:

  • Use of a weapon, deadly or otherwise
  • Bodily harm has occurred to another person
  • If the death occurred during or after the crime
  • There are present patterns of abusive behavioral cycles
  • There brain altering substances involved
  • If this crime is part of a habitual crime pattern

What are the Consequences of a Class D Felony?

Technically, all states will have a punishment for a Class D crime—because "Class D" only refers to a type. States without classification organizations might consider these crimes "uncategorized" due to their lowly status.

Crimes found to be felonies of any type have significant consequences for the accused. The only thing that separates the Classes in terms of punishments is scale. A person facing Class A in some states is likely to face death for the right crime; a person facing Class D in that same state would face fines and imprisonment.

How are Fines Assessed and Attributed to Felonies?

Fines and fees are two separate ways a court incurs money for a crime; once added together, they create the dreaded "court debt" that suffocates newly released inmates.

Fines are the costs laid on the accused at the beginning of their conviction; this number changes depending on the crime committed and the state statute.

On the other hand, fees are not impacted by the crime committed. Penalties attribute to the accused based on "operating costs". These costs include late payments, court clerk fees, DNA database fees, installment fees, and many other surcharges.

How Long is the Imprisonment?

It depends on the severity of factors like the entire process has so far. In some states, the prison time is as little as a year, while others have as much as forty. Then there are the states that are kill-states for their Class A felonies. (If you try hard enough, you can escalate a Class D to a Class A, punishments and all.)

The judge's role in the court is to assign guilt, place blame, and give sentencing. The best strive to create sentences that reflect the severity of the crime itself. At the same time, they need to set an example for other bad actors. Judges are meant to promote the law of the land—thus, stricter judges are often more patriotic.

Felony Charges Take More than Time and Money

Felony charges also strip many rights from the accused. Some may seem to not matter in the wake of criminal charges, like voting rights. However, other rights will be lost if found to be guilty of a felony:

  • Those convicted of a felony may lose all child custody rights and visitation.
  • Public benefits like food stamps or needs programs will be rescinded.
  • Those convicted will be unable to gain or retain professional licenses.
  • The guilty will not be able to obtain school loans from banks or federal programs.
  • Once released, they will not be able to purchase, own, or interact with firearms.

I Might Get Charged with a Class D Crime; What Now?

Assuming that you’ve already hired a lawyer, there are a few common approaches to defending against Class D charges. These defenses work because they shift the blame from the accused to unfortunate circumstances.

Lack of intent works with Class D crimes because the accused can say, "I never intended for things to happen". The thought behind this is the results of whatever crime are not the fault of the accused but a byproduct. A byproduct that was completely unforeseeable and thus not the fault or responsibility of the accused.

Lack of understanding is another defense. The accused can say that whatever actions they took, they took despite their limited knowledge of the subject. In a car theft case, the accused can say they didn’t understand how their actions would affect the car; "it just started moving by itself". No one can fault the person who’s just a witness to the self-rolling car.

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