All states and the federal criminal code distinguish between felony crimes (serious offenses) and misdemeanors (less serious). Some states use a classification system to rank felonies (from severe to less so). For those states that use a letter classification system, they may include classes A (the most serious), B, C, and so on. Thus, a class B felony is a subset classification, and as the second in the list of felonies, it is always a very serious crime.
Other states may use the term "level" instead of "class."
Because each state has its own penal code and its own view of how much punishment a particular crime deserves, an offense that is a class B or level 2 felony in one state may be considered a class A/level 1 or class C/level 3 in another state.
The penalty for a class B or level 2 felony may depend on whether the accused has any prior convictions, and whether there are any special circumstances surrounding the incident that led to the charge. Situations that commonly trigger enhancements, which can increase penalties, include:
In a given state, for example, the penalty for a class B felony may be up to 60 years in prison; however, repeat offenders can face increased terms of up to two years if they have a prior felony conviction. Thus, having a class B felony on your record will increase the consequences in the event of future convictions. Many states now have "three strikes" laws, which further amplify the effects of multiple felony convictions.
The following states classify their felony crimes using an A, B, C or 1, 2, 3 (and so on) system: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Consult the chart below to read more about each state's classification system, including examples of Class B felonies and penalties.
|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|
A class B felony conviction may have more consequences beyond the initial sentence and fine. Because class B felonies are typically serious crimes, your ability to seal the record of conviction, sometimes also called expungement, is usually absent.
Your ability to obtain employment may also be affected because a felony conviction will show up on any pre-employment background check. Additionally, your right to vote and serve on a jury may be affected.
Because class B felony charges likely carry severe penalties affecting your freedom and future, seeking the assistance of a criminal defense attorney is advised. A lawyer will understand how best to manage a class B felony case and can offer advice on defenses as well as the potential for a penalty reduction.