Felonies are the most serious crimes in a classification system that can include infractions, misdemeanors and felonies. In South Carolina, a felony conviction can result in fines or prison time of five years or more. Many crimes classed as felony offenses are violent although some are not. Generally, felonies are crimes that are considered morally offensive to the community.
Felonies differ from misdemeanors in the length of prison time that can be sentenced. There are also different levels or classes of felonies. In states with Three Strike Laws, a third felony conviction carries a stiffer penalty than a first, even if the third conviction is for a comparatively less serious crime. It is because of this that Three Strike Laws are controversial. States with Three Strike Laws do allow judges to impose probationary sentences if the third offense is minor.
In addition to carrying longer prison sentences than misdemeanor crimes, felonies can also result in incarceration in a state prison. In many states, the classification of a crime as a felony or a misdemeanor is dependent on whether the sentence is served in a state prison or a local jail.
Under immigration law, an immigrant who is convicted of a felony can face deportation. Some crimes that are felonies under immigration law might not be considered felonies under state or federal laws. These are usually in the category of crimes of moral turpitude, which means that they are crimes, such as income tax evasion, that are considered immoral.
South Carolina is a Three Strike state. Most felony offenses are violent or threaten the safety of a person or group of people. These types of charges include armed robbery, sexual assault, aggravated assault and murder. White collar crimes or financial crimes like forgery can also be classified as felonies. An individual facing felony charges may work with an attorney to develop a defense.