What is a Felony?

Felonies, simply, are crimes that are punishable by incarceration in a state or federal prison.  There are two other categories of crime: misdemeanors and infractions.  Of the three different classifications, the felony is the most serious charge and can result in the direst of consequences.  A person convicted of a felony in California may face a sentence as severe as a death sentence, but at a minimum, they will be charged with a year of jail time.  There may also be a fine of up to $10,000.  In some instances, this fine may be in place of the jail time.

Different states define felonies differently and deal with felonies on different levels.  California has its own set of rules that it follows.  The sentences and way that they handle your crime here may differ greatly from how the same crime would be dealt with in another state.

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What are the different degrees or types of felonies?

When looking at felonies, there are several ways that they are classified.  There are classes and then degrees.  The classes for felonies are designated by A-E in some states.  They are just designations for the types of crimes that have been committed.

Classes A and B are for the more serious felonies; while classes D and E are for the less serious.  Class C crimes sit somewhere in the middle of both groups.   While this is the most typically seen system, you may also see numbers as the designations for the different classes (sometimes referred to as levels).  In California, all the different levels and classes mesh together to create a system that really works on a case-by-case basis that keeps the punishments in line with the crimes that were committed.

While the classes are used to distinguish the different crimes, the degree has to do with the severity of the offense.  First-degree assault is going to be given a heavier sentence than a second-degree offense.  Depending on the different crimes there are criteria that must be met for the court to charge someone with a first-degree or second-degree crime.  In the case of a murder charge, the prosecution must be able to demonstrate intent if they wish to charge the defendant with a first-degree charge.

In the case that the felony is labeled as a third-degree felony, then there is a chance that this charge could be dropped down to a misdemeanor instead of a felony.  These are known as “wobbler” offenses because of the fact that they can change so easily from one side to another.  “Wobbler” offenses can happen between felonies and misdemeanors, as well as misdemeanors and infractions.

Sentencing Crimes

When making sentences for crimes, most states allow judges to create a sentence that really fits the crime that was committed. While California does allow for a little wiggle room on how a crime is treated as “wobbler” offenses, there is slightly less wiggle room in how long of a sentence a person is going to get for most crimes.

Lawmakers in California have fixed sentences for different crimes.  While most other states have fixed sentences for the classes of crimes, California decided to operate differently.  This means that each crime has a high, medium, and low sentence.  A good example of this is the sentence for an assault with a machine gun; someone convicted of this will face four, eight, or 12 years as their sentence.

Since there is such an extensive list of crimes, the lawmakers made a provision in the laws to make sure that a crime that isn’t included will still have a sentence.  If someone is convicted of a crime that the lawmakers have failed to set a punishment, then they will face 16 months, two, or three years in prison as well as a fine that will be set in the court.

Consequences of Felonies

While the main consequence of being convicted of a felony is the sentence that you are given by a court, there are many more consequences that can be faced by someone after they serve their sentence or pay their fine.

All felonies result in a ban on owning firearms.  This ban can be temporary, but it can also be a lifetime ban on firearms.  After a felony conviction, you may also be turned away from many jobs.  Not all companies will hire those with felony records, and anyone that has been convicted of a felony is legally required to disclose the conviction if they are asked about it on a form or in an interview.  Another result of the felony conviction is the inability to vote.  A felon will not be able to vote while they are incarcerated, on parole, or on probation.

There are also some other consequences, but they are given on a more case-by-case basis.  For those involved in a DUI felony, their license may be revoked or suspended for a time.  If you are convicted of a sexual offense, then you will wind up in a database of sex offenders that is available to the public.

Felony Bail Amounts: Los Angeles Bail Schedule

Just like with the sentence of a felony, the bail can be more or less depending on the severity of the crime.  Those crimes that are third-degree felonies that can be moved down into the misdemeanor category may face less of a bail bond than a first-degree charge of the same felony.  Misdemeanors of the same crime will have significantly smaller bail bond amounts than the felony version of the crime.

Felony IDDescriptionBail Amount
211 Robbery - First Degree
Robbery - Second Degree
$100,000
$50,000
243 (c,d)Battery- Upon peace officer, etc. with injury
With serious bodily injury
$50,000
$50,000
245 (c)Assault with deadly weapon other than a firearm or
force likely to produce G.B.I. upon a peace officer or firefighter
$50,000
245
(d)1
(d)2
Assault with a firearm upon a peace officer or firefighter
Assault with a semiautomatic firearm upon a peace officer or firefighter
$100,000
$200,000
273.5Corporal injury of spouse, cohabitant, former spouse,
or cohabitant or mother or father of his or her child With prior conviction
$50,000
$100,000
273.6Violtion of protective order$50,000
422Criminal Threats$50,000
459Embezzlement or falsification of accounts by public officers$25,000
424Burglary - Residential
Burglary - All Others
$50,000
$20,000
470 (a,b)Forgery/Counterfeiting Driver's License or I.D. card
Displaying or possessing forged driver's license or I.D. card
with intent to accomplish a forgery
$20,000
$20,000
471Forgery, false entries, in records or returns$20,000
472Forgery or counterfeiting any public or corporate seal$20,000
475Forged bills or notes possessing or receipt$20,000
476 (a)Fictitious checks, making, uttering
N.S.F. Checks
$20,000
$5,000
477, 479, 480Counterfeiting of coin$25,000
484
(b)
(c)
(e-1)
eft, diversion of money received for services, labor, material, etc.
if amount exceeds $2,350
Embezzlement of funds for construction
Various felonies related to credit cards

$20,000
$25,000
$20,000
487 (a,b)
(c)
(d)1
Grand Theft (or amount of theft, if higher)
Grand Theft Person
Theft of motor vehicle
with evidence of a chop shop operation
$20,000
$25,000
$35,000
$50,000
(d)2Grand Theft Firearm$50,000
496Receiving stolen property if valued more than $950,
or amount received, whichever is higher
$20,000
497Stolen properties, bringing into state, or amount stolen,
whichever is higher
$20,000

List of Felony Drug Charges

Felony IDDescriptionBail Amount
11054-11058Controlled substance defined: Schedules I, II, III, IV, V
11152, 11153Controlled substances, writing, dispensing, prescription$20,000
11154, 11155Controlled substances, prescribing, administering, furnishing to addict$20,000
11162.5 (a)Counterfeiting prescription blank$20,000
11350Illegal possession of certain specific or classified controlled substances$10,000
11351 Possession or purchase for sale of certain specific
or classified substances
Up to 1 kilogram
If over 1 kilogram
If over 4 kilograms
If over 10 kilograms
If over 20 kilograms
If over 40 kilograms
If over 80 kilograms


$30,000
$100,000
$250,000
$500,000
$1,000,000
$2,000,000
$5,000,000
11351.5Illegal Transportation, sale, furnishing of certain specific
or classified controlled substances
Up to 1 kilogram
If over 1 kilogram
If over 4 kilograms
If over 10 kilograms
If over 20 kilograms
If over 40 kilograms
If over 80 kilograms


$30,000
$100,000
$250,000
$500,000
$1,000,000
$2,000,000
$5,000,000
11357Marijuana, Possession
11357 (a)Concentrated Cannabis- Felony$10,000
11358Marijuana: Cultivate, process
Up to 1 lb.
If over 1 lb.
If over 25 lbs.

$20,000
$30,000
$50,000
11359Marijuana, possession for sale
Up to 1 lb.
If over 1 lb.
If over 10 lbs.
If over 25 lbs.
If over 50 lbs.

$20,000
$25,000
$30,000
$50,000
$100,000
11360Marijuana: Transportation, sale, furnishing
Up to 1 lb.
If over 1 lb.
If over 10 lbs.
If over 25 lbs.
If over 50 lbs.

$20,000
$25,000
$30,000
$50,000
$100,000
11361Marijuana: Person 18 Years or over using minor
under 14 in sale, transportation, giving to minor
Up to 25 lb.
If over 25 lb.
If over 50 lbs.

If over 25 lb.
If over 50 lbs.

$40,000
$50,000
$100,000
11366Maintain place for selling, giving, using of certain specific
or classified controlled substance
$30,000
11377Possession of controlled substances$10,000
11378Possession of controlled substance for sale
Up to 1 kilogram
If over 1 kilogram

$30,000
$100,000
11379Sale of controlled substances
Up to 1 kilogram
If over 1 kilogram
If over 4 kilograms

$30,000
$100,000
$250,000
11379.6 (a)Manufacture of any controlled substance$75,000