All states divide criminal laws into two basic categories: misdemeanor and felony offenses. While there are significant differences in how each state categorizes each crime, and even in the types of crimes that are punishable in each state, felony offenses are always considered the more serious of the two.
In the state of Alabama, felonies are also differentiated into three different categories, or classes, each of which has its own possible penalties.
For information on misdemeanor penalties, see Alabama Misdemeanor Crimes by Class and Sentences.
How Alabama Organizes Felony Crimes
The state of Alabama organizes felony crimes into three levels: Class A, Class B, and Class C felonies. Class A felonies include crimes that are considered the most serious, while Class B and Class C crimes are less serious.
Prison Sentence Ranges
Every felony offense in Alabama is punishable by at least one year and one day in a state prison. Depending on the circumstances of the crime and its severity level, a felony conviction can result in a wide range of sentences.
- Class A. No less than 10 years and no more than life or 99 years.
- Class B. No less than two years and no more than 20 years.
- Class C. No less than one year and one day and no more than 10 years.
Firearms Offenses or Child Sexual Offenses
If you are convicted of a Class A felony offense in Alabama and you used, or attempted to use, a firearm during the commission of the crime, you face a sentence of no less than 20 years in prison. This enhancement also applies to any Class A felony sex offenses that involved a child.
If you are convicted of a class B or a class C felony where the crime is a sex offense involving a child, or where you used or attempted to use a firearm during the commission of the crime, you face a prison sentence of no less than 10 years.
Alabama law imposes additional prison time if you are convicted of a felony and have been convicted of one ore felonies in the past. The length of the enhanced penalty depends on the class of felony you’ve been convicted of, the number of prior felony convictions on your record, and sometimes the class of prior felony convictions.
1 Prior Felony Conviction
- Class A. no less than 15 years and no more than life or 99 years.
- Class B. No less than 10 years and no more than life or 99 years.
- Class C. No less than two years and no more than 20 years.
2 Prior Felony Convictions
- Class C. Punished as a Class A felony with no prior offenses.
- Class B. Up to a life sentence but not less than 15 years.
- Class A: Up to a life sentence not less than 99 years.
3 Prior Felony Convictions
- Class C. Up to lie for 99 years, and no less than 15 years.
- Class B. Up to life and no less than 20 years
- Class A and no prior Class A convictions. Life sentence or life sentence without the possibility of parole at the discretion of the trial court.
- Class A and prior Class A convictions. Life sentence without the possibility of parole.
Being convicted of a felony in Alabama can also result in a fine.
- Class A. Not more than $60,000
- Class B. Not more than $30,000
- Class C. Not more than $15,000, or any amount not exceeding twice the amount the victim(s) lost or the defendant gained as a result of the crime.
The court can also impose additional penalties if the criminal statute in the case allows for it.
The Alabama criminal code contains numerous specific crimes, each of which are categorized by severity level. The following is a brief list of examples of crimes from each of the three felony classes; it does not include all possible felony crimes Alabama.
Class A Felony Crimes
- First-degree burglary
- First-degree kidnapping
Class B Felony Crimes
- First-degree manslaughter
- First-degree assault
- Second-degree kidnapping
Class C Felony Crimes
- Criminally negligent homicide
- Second-degree receiving stolen merchandise
- Interfering with custody rights
Statute of Limitations
All states, including Alabama, have laws that limit when the prosecution can charge someone with a crime, known as statutes of limitations. These laws act as ticking clocks, requiring the state to act in a specific amount of time. If the prosecutor doesn’t charge someone with a crime before the statute of limitations clock runs out, the state cannot bring criminal charges.
In Alabama, the general felony statute of limitations is three years. However, the code includes significant exceptions to this three-year limit, and many felonies have no limitations associated with them at all. For more detailed information about these limits, read Alabama Criminal Statute of Limitations.
Talk to A Lawyer Near You
Anytime you have a question about Alabama criminal laws, you need to find a local criminal defense attorney to speak with. The Alabama felony sentencing laws can be rather complicated, and only an experienced attorney who knows how these laws are applied in specific circumstances can give you advice about your case and answer any questions you have. You should never rely on your own research or what you hear from friends, family, or anyone else who isn’t a lawyer. An experienced defense attorney who has represented clients in your jurisdiction is the only person qualified to give you advice about your criminal case.