Many states, plus the federal criminal code, categorize their felony crimes by degree of seriousness, from the most serious to the least. Some states use a "class" designation, such as Class A, B, and C or Classes 1 to 5. Others classify by "levels," such as Level 1, 2, 3, and the like.
This article will discuss common Class B, Class 2, and Level 2 felony crimes and penalties. Depending on the number of classifications a state uses, this offense level tends to represent serious to mid-level felony crimes.
In states that categorize by class or level, Class A or 1 and Level 1 felony designations generally represent the most serious offenses. Class B, Class 2, and Level 2 are the next most serious, and so on. A few states have separate designations for capital or life felonies, such as premeditated murder.
States group their felonies in order to assign a punishment that corresponds to offense severity. Every class or level has a set punishment or a range, and every statute that defines a crime specifies the class or level that applies to that crime. For example, a state may specify that Class B felonies are punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $40,000 fine. In the state's criminal code, certain crimes would specify their penalty as a Class B felony, such as "A person who commits first-degree arson is guilty of a Class B felony."
Because each state has its own penal code and its own view of how much punishment a particular crime deserves, the penalty for a Class B, Class 2, or Level 2 felony will vary—as will the crimes that carry this punishment.
As noted above, the severity of the penalties for a Class B, Class 2, or Level 2 felony often depends on the number of classifications a state uses. If a state has only three felony classifications, Class B or 2 would represent mid-level felonies. However, states that divide felonies into five or more classifications generally consider Class B or 2 felonies to be one of the more serious felony levels.
To complicate matters further, the actual penalty handed down will depend on a variety of factors. Judges often have a lot of flexibility in sentencing and can generally order any sentence up to the maximum permitted by law. An offender who has a lengthy felony rap sheet or uses a weapon will typically receive a sentence that's close to the maximum allowed, whereas a first-time offender might receive a much lower sentence. Other factors that judges consider in handing out sentences include the circumstances of the crime, the victim, and the defendant's background and remorsefulness.
Below are a few examples of Class B, Class 2, and Level 2 felony crimes and possible sentences.
Arizona. Arizona has six felony classes. The penalty for a class 2 felony in Arizona depends on the offender's criminal history, the severity of the crime, and the circumstances of the crime, among other factors. For a first-time offender (with no aggravating factors), the general sentencing range for a class 2 felony is 4 to 10 years. However, dangerous and repetitive offenders can receive sentences upwards of 21 or 35 years. Kidnapping and sex trafficking are examples of class 2 felonies.
New York. Five felony classes exist in New York. The maximum sentence for a class B felony in New York is 25 years in prison and a $30,000 fine. New York increases this maximum term for certain violent felonies, drug crimes, and sex crimes. First-degree assault and criminal use of a firearm are class B felonies.
Nevada. Nevada divides felonies into five categories. Category B felonies are crimes that statute specifies can be punished by no more than 20 years in prison. However, the law can set a lower maximum term. For instance, voluntary manslaughter and mayhem are category B felonies that carry a maximum 10-year sentence. Battery with intent to kill is a category B felony with a 20-year maximum.
Virginia. A class 2 felony in Virginia carries 20 years to life imprisonment. First-degree murder, abduction to extort money, and use of a machine gun for a crime of violence are all class 2 felonies.
Consult the chart below to read more about each state's classification system. For more information on a particular state's felony crimes and penalties, talk to a criminal defense attorney in your area.
|Alabama||A, B, or C|
|Alaska||A, B, or C|
|Arizona||1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6|
|Arkansas||Y, A, B, C, or D|
|Colorado||1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or unclassified|
|Connecticut||A, B, C, or D; or unclassified (by crime); different sentencing laws apply for crimes committed before July 1, 1981|
|Delaware||A, B, C, D, E, F, or G|
|Florida||Capital or life felonies; or felonies of the first-, second-, or third-degree|
|Hawaii||A, B, or C; murder classed separately|
|Illinois||X, 1, 2, 3, or 4; murder classed separately|
|Indiana||1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6|
|Iowa||A, B, C, or D|
|Kentucky||A, B, C, or D|
|Maine||A, B, or C|
|Michigan||A, B, C, D, E, F, G, or H|
|Missouri||A, B, C, D, or E|
|Nebraska||Class I, IA, IB, IC, ID, II, III, IIIA, or IV|
|Nevada||A, B, C, D, or E|
|New Hampshire||A or B|
|New Jersey||Indictable offenses: first-, second-, third- or fourth-degree|
|New Mexico||Capital offenses; first-, second-, third-, or fourth-degree|
|New York||A-I, A-II, B, C, D, or E|
|North Carolina||A, B1, B2, C, D, E, F, G, H, or I|
|North Dakota||AA, A, B, or C|
|Ohio||First-, second-, third-, fourth-, or fifth-degree|
|Oregon||Unclassified (by crime), A, B, or C|
|Pennsylvania||First-, second-, or third-degree or unclassified (by crime)|
|Rhode Island||By crime|
|South Carolina||A, B, C, D, E, or F|
|South Dakota||Classes A, B,or C; and 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6|
|Tennessee||A, B, C, D, or E|
|Texas||Capital felonies; first-, second- or third-degree felonies; or state jail felonies|
|Utah||Capital felonies; first-, second- or third-degree felonies|
|Virginia||1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or by crime|
|Washington||A, B, or C|
|West Virginia||By crime|
|Wisconsin||A, B, C, D, E, F, G, or I|