Getting arrested can be a frightening and confusing experience, especially when you’re unfamiliar with police jargon or Nevada state laws. So if Las Vegas’s law enforcement has charged you with a crime, it’s important to know whether you’re facing a misdemeanor offense with a fine or a felony with possible jail time. That’s why we put together this blog to help you answer the question: when does something become a felony?
What’s a Felony?
The term “felony” originated from the French word “félonie.” In medieval English common law, this word described an offense that could cost a convicted person their land or assets or even receive capital punishment. Today, a felony is a serious crime punishable by one or more years in prison. It typically involves violence or any action causing extreme psychological harm, and the law considers it a more severe offense than a misdemeanor.
Can a Judge Upgrade Misdemeanor Charges?
There are many occasions when something can become a felony in Nevada. For example, courts can enhance your sentence. Once you’re convicted in the state, the judge has the discretion to upgrade your punishment’s severity and the crime’s categorization. These enhancements aim to deter repeat offenders, ensure penalties fit the crime, and protect the public by keeping convicted criminals off the streets for extended periods. The judge may escalate your charges when certain factors apply to your case, such as:
- Any record of prior convictions.
- Your tendency to reoffend.
- The use of a weapon.
- A crime involving a minor.
- The location.
What Are Wobblers in Nevada?
A few of Nevada’s criminal laws provide reduced charges for first offenders of lower-level felonies. In this case, you may face the court with a gross misdemeanor instead of a more serious crime. These offenses carry penalties of up to a year in jail, so it’s to your advantage to find a criminal defense lawyer experienced in wobbler cases. But the judge will ultimately decide how they want to punish the crime during your case’s sentencing phase.
What’s the Penalty for a Felony in Las Vegas?
A felony is the most severe type of offense in Las Vegas. And if convicted, you’ll face harsher legal consequences than you would with a misdemeanor charge. Nevada officials organize felony convictions into five categories, ranging from A to E, where category A is the most grievous and category E is the least. Here’s a description of what they signify:
These crimes are the most serious in Nevada and are punishable by death or life in prison. Category A examples include first- and second-degree murder, sexual assault, sex trafficking of a child, and first-degree kidnapping.
The standard prison sentence for a category B offense is a one-year minimum and a 20-year maximum. In Nevada, these felonies include voluntary manslaughter, robbery, home invasion, assault with a deadly weapon, and grand larceny of a firearm.
Category C felonies carry a sentence of incarceration between one and five years and may also include fines not exceeding $10,000. Examples include cyberstalking, car theft, witness intimidation, and bribing a public official.
These felonies carry the least severe prison sentences in Las Vegas. Punishment of crimes, including involuntary manslaughter, felony bail jumping, and fourth-degree arson, carries a prison sentence of one to four years. If you’re convicted, the court may also assess a fine of up to $5,000.
A category E felony comes with the least severe sentence. According to the Nevada Legislature, if convicted, you face a minimum one to a maximum four-year prison sentence. However, there is no mandatory fine attached to the sentence.
Additional Prison Sentences in Nevada
Nevada law also provides extra prison time for special circumstances, which you must serve consecutively with the original felony. You could do more time if the crime you committed includes the following aspects:
- Occurred on school property or related activity.
- Used a deadly weapon.
- Violated certain protective orders.
- Promoted gang activities.
- Targeted a senior or another vulnerable victim.
- Was based on ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or gender.
How Felony Sentencing Works in Nevada
Once you’re convicted of a felony, the court will set a recommended prison term. This sentence must fall within the law’s given range for that crime, with a minimum period of no more than 40% of the maximum. The court may also order you to pay fines, court costs, and restitution.
In some cases, the judge can place a defendant on probation, defer judgment, suspend the prison sentence, or order that you enroll in special programs, such as an addiction treatment center for drug crimes. Remember that if you fail to abide by any probation conditions, you could face additional sanctions, or the judge may send you to prison.
If you’re convicted of a felony and must go to jail, you may be eligible for parole once you complete the minimum term. In fact, Nevada offers several incentives to help inmates reduce their sentences. Some ways to improve your chances of securing an early release include completing treatment programs while incarcerated, getting a degree, and obeying the rules.
What Can an Attorney Do When a Charge Becomes a Felony?
Depending on your case’s circumstances, courts may enhance your crime even if you committed a minor felony. These charges come with serious long-term consequences. If convicted, you may have trouble finding a job, renting an apartment, or getting specific financial aid. In addition, you could lose your right to carry a firearm and run for office, and it doesn’t even have to be a capital offense. Being arrested and the subsequent court appearances are also quite stressful. An attorney can help with a felony charge because they can often negotiate, reduce, or even have the court dismiss the charges.
If you’re facing criminal charges of any kind, it’s vital that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney at De Castroverde Law Group immediately. You need someone to help you defend your rights throughout the proceedings to ensure the best possible outcome for you and your future. We offer no-obligation consultations and will help you explore your various options. Let us help you navigate your case, whether a misdemeanor or a felony.
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