What Is A Class A Felony

Last Updated on May 11, 2022 by Fair Punishment Team

A Class A Felony is an incredibly serious offense and will result in severe punishments. Let’s take a look at exactly what a class A felony is.


A Class A felony is the most severe crime which holds the longest prison sentences and largest fines. Felony crimes are normally prioritized into their level of severity, the worst crimes to the least serious. Many states will employ a class system ranging from A-C etc whereas other states might employ a levelled system ranging from 1-3 etc.

States will organize felonies in such a format because it allows them to categorize punishment in a fair and orderly fashion. This is where the State can collate together a crime of seriousness and the punishment. For example, if a crime is categorized as a class A crime, this might have a 20 year prison sentence and a $50,000 fine – so any class A crime can have this punishment.

Due to each State’s penal code being different, their choice of categorized crimes into tiers might differ from another’s. For example, what appears as a class A crime in one State due to their punishment choice, could be a level 2 crime in another State.

Some States however, do not opt for a tiered system and rather judge the crime and punishment in the statute definition.

With penalties for felonies, enhancements or mitigating circumstances can be considered. Enhancements result in time added to sentence whereas mitigating circumstances can result in time reduced.

What States Have Class A Or Level 1 Felonies?

22 States have this system in place, whereas others opt for “by crime” or “grid” systems. The 22 are:

  • Wisconsin
  • Washington
  • Tennessee
  • South Carolina
  • North Carolina
  • Oregon
  • North Dekota
  • New York
  • New Hampshire
  • Nevada
  • Missouri
  • Michigan
  • Maine
  • Kentucky
  • Iowa
  • Indiana
  • Hawaii
  • Delaware
  • Connecticut
  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Alaska

What Crimes Might Be Considered Class A Felonies?

These crimes are normally among the most heinous and most serious crimes a crime can get. These might include murder, arson, attempted murder, voluntary manslaughter, sexual violence, forcible rape and some drug offenses.

Every State has its own statutes and therefore will categorize crimes differently.

The penalties can vary due to these States choices, so in one State you might have a penalty for something at 20 years and a huge fine, whereas in States (where it is allowed) you could be sentenced to death.

What’s The Difference Between A Felony And A Misdemeanor?

So, as we’ve explored – a felony is among the worst crimes and a class A felony is the worst of the worst. Imagining a hierarchy or tabled system for crime and punishment, you could think of it this way, ranging from least serious to most serious:


An infraction is the least serious kind of crime. Generally, it’s when somebody has violated law or a rule and normally will result in something like a fine or a very short term jail sentence, no more than 5 days. An example of an infraction could be something like unpaid parking tickets, disturbing the peace, littering and many other very minor offenses. An officer who might notice an infraction will normally write you a ticket on the spot, but not always. If a ticket is left ignored, the crime could increase in seriousness.


Moving up in seriousness, a misdemeanor is a type of criminal offense and can result in jail time, generally around a year. Infractions, misdemeanors and felonies are all categorized into their own groups and therefore can hold varied punishments. Classes A-C for a misdemeanor could have jail sentences of:

Class A = Between 6 months and 12 months
Class B = Between 1 month and 6 months
Class C = Between 5 days and 30 days


The definition of a felony varies from State to State. Idaho for example defines it as a crime punishable by death or life imprisonment. Whereas Georgia says it can also mean a minimum of 1 year in prison. Either way, it’s still a serious crime. Receiving a felony on your record will stay with you for life and can affect your future with things like credit applications or job applications. In some instances, your rights aren’t fully reinstated for a while upon release, meaning your life could be wildly different anyway. The classing system can categorize as:
Class A = Life in jail or death, worst of the worst crimes
Class B = 25+ years in jail
Class C = 10-25 years in jail
Class D = 5-10 years in jail
Class E = 1-5 years in jail

What Rights Do Convicted Felons Lose?

All of these rights will be subject to the State the felon is living in. But you can expect the following rights to be reduced or removed:


Most States, after the end of your jail term, will allow the felon to vote once again – however, some States continue the restrictions until the end of a waiting period. There might be other things involved too such as parole terms, fines to pay etc.

Leaving The USA

You might have your passport revoked until certain criteria is met. You wouldn’t even be able to travel north of the border without checks, as Canada has access to the US database for convicted criminals.


It may be more difficult to obtain firearms after being convicted as a felon. However, things like a Governor’s pardon can waive these restrictions.

Rights For Employment

An employer can’t use a previous conviction as a rationale to not hire somebody but they can use it as a way to consider the candidate. The only time this differs is if the crime directly relates to the work the candidate has applied for (for example medicine or education).

State And Federal Grants

Felons aren’t allowed access to either of these grants, including for public housing or food stamps.

Child Custody

Serious crimes like murder will in effect, revoke your rights to child custody. However, not all crimes mean you cannot see or have custodial rights over your children again. If a felon has lost this right and was the only parent at the time of conviction, the child may be placed into foster care indefinitely.