Felony law is a subset of criminal law that specifically handles felony cases. A felony crime is considered more serious than a misdemeanor crime. A person charged with a felony crime may be fined, serve jail time or be faced with other punitive action. In particular states, a felony murder conviction can result in the death penalty. Felonies are generally divided into two categories: violent felonies and nonviolent felonies. Felonies are labeled based on the severity of the crime. The most severe felony is generally labeled as a first degree felony, followed by second degree and third degree felonies. Felony classifications often vary by state. Violent felonies can include murder, attempted murder, assault, armed robbery, rape and sexual assault. Most violent crimes will result in severe sentencing if a conviction is made. Violent felonies, however, are not the only felonies to result in severe penalties. One in five felony convictions are related to white collar crimes and the outcome may be many years of incarceration. White collar crimes include tax evasion, embezzlement, identity theft, bribery, and numerous other forms of fraud. Drug offenses are another form of nonviolent crime. The conviction rate of drug related felonies is high and over 90 percent of drug convictions will result in jail time.
A skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney can mean the difference between years of incarceration, a sentence reduction or even dismissed charges. The job of the attorney is to make sure that the legal process is fair and is followed throughout the proceedings. However, the main job of a felony attorney is to make sure that the felony is either dropped completely or lowered in severity. A felony attorney can help clients in a variety of ways. Felony attorneys can negotiate with prosecutors and possibly reduce the sentence of their client. They can interview police and witnesses to prevent the inclusion of lies or embellishments in the case. They can investigate the legal validity of the evidence and make sure that none of it was obtained illegally. Most of all, the felony attorney provides services and insights into the case that could not otherwise be achieved. Generally, the better the attorney, the more likely the charges will be dropped or the sentence will be reduced.