Connecticut's laws divide crimes into felonies and misdemeanors. Felonies in Connecticut are punishable by state prison terms of more than one year. Misdemeanors are less serious crimes, punishable by up to 364 days in jail.
Connecticut divides felony crimes into five classifications—class A, B, C, D, and E. The three highest classifications (classes A to C) impose minimum and maximum prison sentences. The law also imposes a maximum fine by felony class, which can either be a set amount or double a defendant's financial gain from a crime.
Below are the penalties provided in the law, as well as examples of crimes within each classification.
Until 2012, Connecticut's laws punished capital felonies (murder with special circumstances) by death or life without the possibility of parole. In April 2012, Connecticut abolished the death penalty. Today, people convicted of murder with special circumstances in Connecticut will be sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
Class A felonies carry the harshest penalties under Connecticut law. One of three penalties may apply, along with a maximum $20,000 fine.
A similar penalty structure applies to Class B felonies. A class B felony for first-degree manslaughter with a firearm is punishable by 5 to 40 years. All other class B felonies carry a prison term of one to 20 years. The maximum fine for a class B felony is $15,000.
A person convicted of a class C felony faces one to 10 years of prison time and up to a $10,000 fine. Examples of class C felonies include first-degree threats, first-degree strangulation or suffocation, bribery, and forgery.
Class D felonies are punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Examples of class D felonies include criminal mischief, paying or accepting a kickback, perjury, cyberstalking, violating a protection order, and bail jumping.
A person convicted of a class E felony faces up to 3 years of prison time and a $3,500 fine. Examples of class E felonies include grand theft auto (first offense), extortion by ransomware, and intimidation or threats based on bigotry or bias.
(Conn. Gen. Stat. § § 53a-25, 53a-35, 53a-35a, 53a-41, 53a-44 (2023).)
In felony sentencing, Connecticut judges sentence defendants to a set incarceration term, such as 10 years, rather than setting a range of years. Judges may also sentence the defendant to pay a fine and victim restitution. Except for class A felonies, a judge may allow a defendant to serve all or part of their sentence in the community under probation or on conditional discharge.
A person placed on probation or conditional discharge must typically abide by conditions set by the court to stay out of prison. Common conditions include remaining law abiding, maintaining employment or educational studies, remaining substance and alcohol free, and staying away from victims. A judge can also order the defendant to participate in an alternate incarceration program, such as a residential or nonresidential treatment program. Violating any of these terms can result in the judge modifying conditions or revoking probation or conditional discharge.
(Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 53a-28, 53a-28a, 53a-29, 53a-30, 53a-31, 53a-32, 53a-33, 53a-39a (2023).)
Connecticut law imposes harsh penalties for those who commit repeat felonies or use a weapon during the offense.
Connecticut has a number of persistent felony offender enhancements. The exact enhancement depends on the crimes committed in the current and prior felony offense(s). For instance, Connecticut imposes different enhancements for the following:
The law permits judges to impose enhanced sentences that double or triple the minimum and maximum terms or increase the offense to the next felony degree.
A defendant will have an extra five or eight years tacked onto a class A, B, or C felony sentence if the crime was committed with a firearm or assault weapon. This enhancement applies when a defendant is armed with the weapon, brandishes or threatens to use the weapon, or even represents having a weapon during the offense.
(Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 53-202j, 53-202k, 53a-40, 53a-40a, 53a-40d, 53a-40f (2023).)
Criminal convictions have serious consequences. Aside from time in prison and fines, criminal convictions can make it difficult to obtain a job, buy a gun, or qualify for certain government benefits. You should talk to a Connecticut criminal defense attorney about your case if you are charged with any crime. An attorney can help you understand your options and protect your rights.