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Misdemeanor vs Felony Offense Levels in Massachusetts

Both felonies and misdemeanor offenses are crimes under the laws of Massachusetts.

Misdemeanors and felonies are described in Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 274, Section 1. Any crime that may be punished by death or time in the state prison is defined as a felony. All other crimes in this state are misdemeanors. Note that at this time, there is no death penalty in the state of Massachusetts, so the harshest penalty for a felony offense is life in prison without the possibility of parole.

If you are convicted of a felony in this state, there will be a separate sentencing hearing that is held after you are convicted. At that hearing, the state court will tell you what the punishment is. You can be sentenced to prison, fines or both with a felony conviction. You will do time in a state prison for a felony conviction.

If you are convicted of a misdemeanor, the sentence also can include incarceration and fines. However, if you are convicted of a misdemeanor, you will do time in a house of corrections or a county jail.

Two Types of Misdemeanor

There exists two levels of misdemeanors in this state:

  • Level I: If the maximum penalty is six months or less
  • Level II: If the maximum penalty is more than six months

Most types of misdemeanor will result in three years or less in a house of corrections or a county jail.

Types of Felonies

The main difference in the type of felony is whether it is:

  • Violent: Including murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, aggravated assault, rape, sexual assault, arson, or robbery; or
  • Non-violent: Burglary, larceny, fraud, forgery, receipt of stolen property, vandalism, or white collar crimes such as embezzlement

Felonies also are classified according to the following categories:

  • Class A: Murder, which the sentence for is either life in prison or the death penalty.
  • Class B: Homicide, armed robbery, rape, drug trafficking or violent assault.
  • Class C: Assault, fraud, robbery, larceny, drug distribution
  • Class D: Lesser types of larceny, fraud, theft, robbery, burglary or manslaughter
  • Class E: DWI where harm was done to a person or structure, or assault, forcible touching or aggravated harassment.

You can be sentenced for a felony in the state of Massachusetts from three years all the way up to life imprisonment.


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