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Understanding Alabama Felony Charges

For someone charged with a crime in Alabama, it matters what that crime is as well as its classification. The consequences of a conviction will vary depending on the classification of the crime. A strong, strategic defense is the best means to avoid a conviction or, alternatively, accept a plea deal in the defendant's favor.

At Segal and Segal, our criminal defense lawyer in Huntsville and Madison County investigates each case with care and strategizes accordingly. Our legal team will help you understand the charges against you, what the possible outcomes are, and how we will move forward. Contact us at 256 533 4529 to schedule a consultation and learn more about any alleged criminal charges filed against you and how our criminal defense attorney will proceed with your case.

Felony Charges in Alabama

A felony is a crime punishable by more than one year in state or federal prison. Felony charges can be brought by local, state, or federal prosecutors and are processed through state or federal courts, depending upon who brought the charges.

Felonies are crimes against people and/or property.

Examples of felony crimes against people include:

  • Rape
  • Kidnapping
  • Aggravated assault
  • Human trafficking
  • Armed robbery
  • Extortion
  • Child pornography
  • Manslaughter
  • Murder

Examples of felony crimes against property include:

  • Grand theft auto
  • Burglary
  • Arson
  • Forgery
  • Embezzlement
  • Securities fraud

Felony Classifications in Alabama


An Example of Felony Classifications

Alabama has four levels of felony offenses.

Class A. This category is home to the most serious felonies under Alabama law, such as :

Murder and/or Capital murder
Drug Trafficking
Robbery-1st degree
Kidnapping-1st degree
Rape- 1st degree
Sodomy-First Degree
Domestic Violence- 1st degree
Burglary- 1st degree
Arson- 1st  degree

Punishment is also the most severe, with a minimum sentence of ten years, up to life in prison, and/or a fine of up to $100,000 or more. If a firearm was used in a class A felony, the minimum sentence is twenty years. Drug trafficking cases have mandatory minimum sentences that must be served day for day, and the lowest sentence is a day-for-day sentence of three years in prison, and the sentencing increases upwards depending on the weight or quantity of the drugs. Of course, prior felony convictions increase the sentencing range.

Class B. Class B. These felonies are less severe than Class A but more severe than Class C or D felonies. Examples of class B felonies include:

Manslaughter-1st degree
Assault- 1st degree
Kidnapping-2nd degree
Rape-2nd degree
Sodomy -Second Degree
Burglary-2nd degree
Arson- 2nd degree
Theft of property-1st degree

Punishment is no less than two years, no more than twenty years in prison, and fines of up to $10,000. If a firearm or a deadly weapon is used, the sentence is a minimum of ten years.

Class C. This category is the second lowest level of felony in Alabama. Examples of this crime include:

Criminally negligent homicide
Custody Interference
Criminal Tampering- 1st degree
First-degree stalking 
Interference with custody by taking a child from the parent with legal custody
Breaking and entering a vehicle
Receiving stolen property in the 2nd degree.

Sentencing for a Class C felony is a term of one year and one-day imprisonment up to 10 years in prison. 

Class C. This category is the second lowest level of felony in Alabama. Examples of this crime include:

Class D. This felony can carry a sentence of one tear and one day to five years in prison. 

Examples include:

Possession of Marijuana, First degree
Credit Card Fraud
Possession of a Controlled Substance
Theft, Third Degree.

Differences between Alabama Misdemeanor and Felony Charges

The differences between misdemeanors and felonies are stark, so don't assume that a misdemeanor criminal charge is like a felony criminal charge in Alabama. Some of the differences involve constitutional rights, procedures, and the extent of punishment.

  • Constitutional rights. A conviction for a felony offense can impact a felon's constitutional rights, particularly regarding gun ownership and voting. 
  • Legal procedures. Given the potential consequences of a felony conviction, the legal procedures around arresting, charging, and prosecuting someone for a felony offense are usually more immediate and complex than those for misdemeanors. For example, a felony warrant can lead to an immediate arrest, while a warrant related to a misdemeanor may not require an immediate arrest. Most felonies require grand jury indictments. When it comes to misdemeanors, the situation is different. Punishments and penalties vary, and punishments for felonies are always higher. Felonies can require more than one year in prison up to life and beyond and/or up to $100,000 in fines, depending on the crime and circumstances. Misdemeanors result in less than one year in jail, if at all, and possible fines of up to $6000. 
  • Recidivism. Repeat felony offenders often face increasingly harsher penalties, including automatic life sentences, in light of their criminal history. 
  • Expungement. Felonies can be harder to have expunged than misdemeanors.

Can a Felony be Reduced to a Misdemeanor in Alabama?

Because convictions of felonies result in higher penalties and collateral consequences, there are times when having the felony reduced to a lesser offense, like a misdemeanor, can improve the outcome of the case. 

Generally, at least one of the following could apply to your  situation:

  • Plea deal. Through negotiations, you could get a felony reduced to a misdemeanor by pleading guilty to a lesser offense, also called plea bargaining.
  • Diversion programs. In some felony cases, you could participate in a pretrial diversion program, and upon completion of it, the felony charge will be reduced. These diversion programs are often available for drunk driving, drug possession, domestic violence, and shoplifting charges.
  • Probation. In some cases where a defendant is punished with probation and not prison, an option to have the felony reduced upon successful completion of probation may be available.
  •  Argument. Your attorney can argue the facts do not support a felony.

If you want to know more about getting a felony conviction reduced to a misdemeanor, you must consider all the possible outcomes with your criminal defense lawyer. At Segal and Segal, we will weigh the pros and cons so that you can make an informed decision about the direction of your case.

When Do You Need a Criminal Defense Attorney in Alabama? 

A criminal conviction, especially for a felony offense, can have long-lasting impacts on your life, extending past any custodial sentence you may receive. You are not required to retain a criminal defense lawyer, but it is highly advisable. The laws, procedures, and overall experience can be confusing and overwhelming. You need a criminal defense lawyer to help you through it because mistakes can be fatal to your case.

You have a constitutional right to an attorney to help you defend against criminal allegations, but only indigent persons  – are awarded a public defender or an appointed lawyer. Clearly, a court-appointed lawyer is better than no lawyer. Those who can afford to hire a lawyer can choose a lawyer that best fits their needs. Hiring a lawyer will cost you money, but it is an investment in your future. The right attorney will protect you and your future.

Here are a few reasons you would want to schedule a consultation with our firm:

  1. Investigation. An attorney will investigate your case as well as collect and review evidence.
  2. Strategy. Whether it is to negotiate a favorable plea deal or argue your defense before a jury, an attorney will use strategy to obtain the best outcome.
  3. Resources. A criminal defense attorney typically already has the resources necessary to competently represent a client, including a network of experts upon which to call if needed.
  4. Knowledge. Attorneys know the court system, the judges, the procedures, and more, which is valuable information needed for a successful criminal defense.
  5. Rights. An attorney can identify whether any constitutional rights have been violated and file a motion to respond accordingly. Throughout the criminal proceedings, your attorney will also ensure your rights are upheld, and a fair trial is given.

Our criminal defense lawyer at Segal and Segal will investigate thoroughly, strategize effectively, and uphold your rights and integrity.

Contact our firm.

Segal and Segal will protect your rights and help you navigate the criminal justice system. Given the facts and circumstances of your criminal charge, we aim to secure the best possible outcome. Contact us today via the online form or call us at 256 533 4529 to schedule a consultation.

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