What Is a Second-Degree Felony Charge?

By Maggie G
Second-degree felonies, very serious crimes
a pair of steel handcuffs. image by Maxim Lysenko from Fotolia.com

States classify their felonies from most serious (first degree) to least serious. A second-degree felony charge is the second highest felony classification. States can have up to six levels of felony classification.


Second-degree felonies are intentional crimes like assault, arson, robbery and kidnapping. The degree is determined by the state in which the crime occurs.


Second-degree felonies are serious legal matters and should be treated as such. They carry substantial prison time at the state's Department of Corrections (DOC).

Colorado Example

For example, in Colorado, a first-degree felony assault carries a mandatory 10-year sentence; in the second degree, five years mandatory; and in the third degree, possibly two years. Sentence duration can be doubled if there are aggravating circumstances to the crime.


Different states punish the same types of crimes differently. So consult a licensed attorney in the state where you live or have a legal matter pending.

Expert Insight

As with almost all legal matters your best advice would be to consult with an attorney to give you specific advice about your case. A person would be well-advised to try to plea-bargain out of the mandatory sentence concessions of the alleged crime.