Felony cases

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Updated: 4/13/2007 3:35 pm
Crimes are generally divided into two categories: felonies and misdemeanors. A felony is a crime for which the penalty is one year or more in prison. In some states, there are crimes, called 'wobblers,' that can be sentenced as felonies or misdemeanors, at the discretion of the judge. Generally, a misdemeanor can be punishable by fine or time in prison, while a felony can only result in a prison sentence. Unlawful activities that can only be punished by fine, for example many traffic violations, are usually called infractions. In cases involving a serious felony, a prosecutor may enlist the help of a grand jury to establish the precise charges to be filed. Felonies are given different classifications, according to the seriousness of the offense. In many states, there's a schedule of sentencing for first-offense felonies ranging from death or life-imprisonment for the most severe cases to one year in prison for the least serious. In most states, if you're convicted of a felony the second time, your sentence is automatically increased by a certain time period, often five years. Some states have introduced a 'three-strikes' rule, whereby three felony convictions may lead to life imprisonment. If you're accused of a felony crime, you should immediately contact an attorney.
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