What is a Felony?

It can be a challenge to sort through the different legal terms on a background check. Sometimes just sorting through the different things that we have to look through make us feel that we need a law degree to fully comprehend. In order to sort through the different concepts, we are going to tell you about felonies – and everything that you need to know about a felony in relates to a background check.

What Is The Difference?

In most states, you will find that most crimes are classified in one of two categories: misdemeanors and felonies. One additional class of crime that you might see in some states includes petty crimes or violations, but those often do not carry jail time and are usually punished by a fine. If you want to understand the difference between potential punishments, terms of plea agreements, and the charges that were at one time filed against a person, it is critical to understand the difference.

Whereas misdemeanors are often considered less serious crimes, felonies are considered the more serious type of crime. Oftentimes these are classified by degrees. When trying to figure out the degrees of a felony, just remember that the most serious is a first degree felony, and it goes from there.

A few examples of a felony include rape, aggravated or grand theft, murder and more. Many of the states require that a prosecutor obtain grand jury indictment before someone can be charged with a felony – but again, this is not always mandatory. Felonies are often punishable by prison sentences in excess of one year, substantial fines, possibly even the death sentence.

Jail term - Whereas a possible jail term with a misdemeanor is often served in county or local jail, those convicted of a felony will service their sentence in a federal or state correctional institution (often referred to as a penitentiary or prison).

A List Of Felonies

A felony can be committed at the state or federal level. State felonies are those crimes that break state law, which means that a state felony can vary widely from state to state. Something that is considered a felony in one state might not necessarily be a felony in another state. Federal felonies are investigated by agencies such as the DEA and FBI and prosecuted by the US Attorney General.

There are also crimes that are both a state and federal felony, given that they break laws on both levels. Felonies often relate to serious threat to property or person. Even though it is a good idea to check the specific regulations of your state, this is a general list of felonies:

  • Kidnapping
  • Drug crimes
  • Domestic violence
  • DUI/DWI (often only considered a felony with previous convictions for DUI/DWI
  • Murder
  • Assault

I Have A Felony – Does It Ever Go Away?

It is understandable that a felony is going to make it difficult to find employment in certain cases. However, a felony is going to show on your record for the rest of your life. A strict process called expungement is the only way that you can remove a felony from your record.

Why Are Felonies Permanent?

Because felonies are often reserved for the most serious crimes (often serious crime) it would make sense that this type of conviction sticks for a long time. A felony should not be handed out lightly, and often require a long process that requires arraignments, pre-trial conferences, motion hearings, and eventually the actual trial.

Felonies And Finding A Job

Depending on your state, the way that an employer uses felony background information is going to vary. There are 29 total states that have created laws that "ban the box." This means that employers can use a background check, but it is not until later into the hiring process that they can ask about convictions.

Expunging Your Felony

Having your felony expunged is the only way that you can get rid of it from your record. It would be like the felony never occurred. Depending on your state, the requirements for expunging a record will vary. It is not possible for violent felony offenders to expunge their records in many states. Other states require you to show proof of rehabilitation before you can expunge your records.

If you are not sure what is going to show up on your background check or if you have concerns, it is a good idea to have a professional background check done. That way, you can be sure what type of questions you are going to receive whenever you go in for an interview.