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Felony Conviction

A felony conviction is the legal guilty verdict reached in a felony criminal case. A felony is considered a serious criminal act or omission which is more severe than a misdemeanor crime. Historically, a felony conviction resulted in a forfeiture of property, dismemberment or death. A state or federal felony conviction today can lead to jail time, probation, fines, restitution, community service, mandatory drug or other rehabilitative treatment, and forfeiture of various legal rights (including the right to vote, serve on a jury, hold government positions, bear arms, and serve in the Armed Forces).

There are numerous types of criminal offenses that can be penalized through a felony conviction. The most commonly committed felonious acts include drug offenses, property offenses and financial crimes (white collar felonies), violent offences such as rape, murder, and assault with a weapon, and non-violent offenses.

In 2000, the state court system yielded almost 925,000 felony conviction verdicts and the Federal legal system yielded almost 60,000 felony conviction verdicts. State courts mandated 40 percent of felony conviction criminals to serve time in State prison, 28 percent in a local jail, and 32 percent to serve probation with no jail time requirements. A felony conviction that results in State prison time averaged a sentence of four and a half years. Those that were sentenced to local prison time were to serve an average of six months.

In the felony conviction cases of 2000, 25 percent of the convicted criminals were required to pay fines, 14 percent had to pay restitution to victims, seven percent had to undergo compulsory treatment, and five percent had to complete community service.

The average time between being charged with a felony and a felony conviction is approximately five months to a year. Ninety five percent of felony conviction verdicts are the result of guilty pleas. Trial convictions account for the other five percent. Females are the subject of felony convictions more often now than in past years, though men are still almost nine times more likely to commit a felony than women are. The average age of a defendant in a felony conviction is thirty years of age.

In the early 1990s states began to enact "three strikes laws." As of 2004, twenty six states and the federal government have felony conviction laws that meet the general definition of a three strikes law. The basic warrant behind three strikes laws is that a person who commits more than two felony offenses is chronically criminal and therefore unsafe to live in society. In a third strike felony conviction the criminal receives a life sentence with little chance of parole. Three strikes laws vary greatly from state to state.

In general, the laws governing felony conviction verdicts vary considerably from place to place. A felony conviction is generally one that carries a sentence of jail time for a serious criminal offense. People who charged with committing a felony have the right to professional legal representation. A criminal defense lawyer can maximize and protect a defendant's interests in a felony conviction trial.

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