Crimes come with punishments. The more serious the crime, the more serious the punishment. On their face, felony crimes are serious offenses that warrant strict punishment. But felonies are separated into categories, so that the punishment can fit the severity of the crime.
Class D felonies are typically the least severe felonies a person can commit. They often don’t cause any harm to another person and may be non-violent. Despite that, they are still serious crimes that come with penalties and long-term consequences.
Many states group felonies into classes for the purpose of sentencing. States generally use classifications from Class A to Class D. Class A covers the most violent crimes, such as murder and rape. Class D covers the least serious crimes.
Some states use only three groups of classifications. That means that Class D felonies may be considered Class C felonies in some states. Other states, such as Arizona and Colorado, use numbers for their classifications instead of letters. These states often have six classes of felonies, with the highest numbers (5 and 6) being equivalent to a Class D felony.
Read More: What is a Class C Felony?
Types of Class D Felonies
What constitutes a Class D felony depends on the state in which the crime is committed. Some states, such as New York, even further break down Class D felonies into “violent” and “non-violent.”
Depending on the state, Class D felonies include:
- Welfare, insurance and mortgage fraud
- Criminal possession or sale of controlled substances
- Vehicular assault or manslaughter
- Aggravated sexual abuse
- Providing support for an act of terrorism
- Criminal possession of a weapon
- Domestic abuse
Consequences of a Class D Felony
Consequences of a Class D felony typically include jail time and a fine. Each state has its own sentencing laws for Class D felonies. In Iowa, for example, Class D felonies are punishable by jail time of up to five years and a fine of $750 to $7,500.
In New York, a person convicted of a violent Class D felony is sentenced to two to seven years in jail. Someone convicted of a non-violent Class D felony in New York doesn’t get jail time, but will be on strict probation from one to seven years.
Nevada sentences convicted felons to one to four years in prison and a fine of not more than $5,000, unless a greater fine is authorized or required by law. Mandatory restitution is also required for certain felonies.
Felonies permanently stay on a person’s record, and convicted felons can see some of their rights impacted. These can include voting rights, travel restrictions, not being allowed to serve on a jury and diminishment of parental rights.
Reducing a Class D Felony to a Misdemeanor
Misdemeanor is the level of crime that falls below felony. Misdemeanors are less serious (such as a DUI or domestic violence) and have lighter sentences. By getting a Class D felony reduced to a misdemeanor, the person convicted would not have a felony record (unless previously convicted of other felonies) and may be able to get the charge dismissed completely.
Certain states do allow for a Class D felony to be reduced to a misdemeanor if the requirements are met. In California, a felony may be reduced to a misdemeanor only if the crime was a “wobbler,” meaning it could have been initially charged and sentenced as either a felony or a misdemeanor. To petition the court to reduce the charge, the convict must not have been sent to state prison and must not have been convicted of any other felonies in the same case, unless all are eligible for a reduction. A judge considers several factors to allow a reduction, including the offense itself, overall compliance with probation and overall criminal history.
In Indiana, certain Class D felonies can be reduced to a misdemeanor under certain conditions. Those include felony convictions is for a crime that didn’t cause bodily injury and the person is not a sex or violent offender. Further, at least three years lapsed since completion of the felony sentence, the person hasn’t been convicted of another felony since the conviction under consideration and the person has no pending criminal charges. Reduction of a conviction in Indiana is made by the trial court.
Class D felonies are typically the least severe felonies a person can commit. What constitutes a Class D felony depends on the state in which the crime is committed.
- LegalMatch: What Is a Class D Felony?
- New York State Laws: Penal Law
- Iowa Legislature: Legislative Guide Criminal Law Overview
- Nevada Legislature: Fact Sheet Penalties for Category D Felonies Under Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS)
- The Law Dictionary: What Rights to Convicted Felons Lose
- California Legislative Information: Penal Code 17
- FindLaw: Indiana Code Title 35. Criminal Law and Procedure § 35-50-2-7
- Fresh Start Law Center: What Is A California "Wobbler" Felony?
Leslie Bloom earned a J.D. from U.C. Davis’ King Hall, with a focus on public interest law. She is a licensed attorney who has done advocacy work for children and women. She holds a B.S. in print journalism, and has more than 20 years of experience writing for a variety of print and online publications, including the Journal of Juvenile Law and Policy.