What Is A Class B Felony?

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In this country, crimes are divided into either misdemeanors or felonies (infractions also exist, which are the lowest form of crime). If a crime can be punished by one year in prison or more, it will generally be classed as a felony. Some states also use a lettered classification to further subdivide the level of crime. Class B felonies are one example of this, and these are some of the most serious crimes. Exactly what constitutes a Class B felony varies from one state to the next, but examples include:

– Alabama – 1st degree manslaughter

– Hawaii – assault with serious injury

– Maine – embezzlement

– New Hampshire – computer fraud

– Missouri – voluntary manslaughter

– Oregon – abuse of corpse

It is clear, therefore, that there are significant variations in terms of what one state does and does not consider a Class B felony.

Penalties for Class B Felonies

In every state, statutes exist that provide sentencing guidelines for different types of crimes, including Class B felony. However, this is not an absolute in terms of the actual sentence someone convicted of the crime will receive. Rather, the circumstances surrounding a crime are taken into consideration, particularly aggravating circumstances, which make the crime worse, and mitigating circumstances, which make the crime less bad. Some aggravating factors, such as a victim being vulnerable (children, the elderly, the disabled), can even trigger additional laws, which increase the suggested penalties significantly.

The variation in sentences for Class B felonies is significant, ranging from 10 years (Maine and Hawaii) to life in prison (North Carolina and South Dakota), depending on the state. States can also impose fines as a result of a Class B felony, which can range from around $1,000 (Kentucky) to as much as $250,000 (Oregon).

Some examples of penalties and fines associated with Class B felonies by state include:


Class B felonies include 1st degree manslaughter, 1st degree assault, 2nd degree kidnapping, and robbery. Sentences ranges from two years to 20 years in prison, with fines of up to $30,000.


Class B felonies include 1st degree manslaughter, 1st degree assault, 1st degree burglary, 1st degree sexual assault, and 1st degree larceny. Sentences range from one to 20 years in prison, with fines of up to $15,000.


Class B felonies include possession of marijuana, 1st degree burglary, 2nd degree sexual abuse, terrorism, and 2nd degree kidnapping. Sentences include a maximum prison term of 25 years, as well as extended sentences (more on that later).


Class B felonies include voluntary manslaughter, 1st degree burglary, 1st degree arson, and molestation of a child under 14. Sentences are pre-set and do not take into account mitigating or aggravating circumstances. They range from five years to 15 years. Extended sentences may also imposed.

Washington State

Class B felonies include theft of property, money laundering, possession of body armor, abuse of a corpse, and drug distribution. Sentences can be up to 10 years in prison, with a fine of up to $20,000.

As shown, the prison terms associated with Class B felonies can be very lengthy. A case will be looked at in great detail to determine how long the sentence should be. This is particularly true if there are aggravating circumstances such as cases involving children under the age of four (Arkansas), possession of a firearm (Connecticut), or being a “dangerous special offender” (North Dakota), can all add years to the sentence. Other forms of extended sentences exist for those who have prior convictions. For instance, in Alabama, a Class B felony usually carries a prison sentence of between two and 20 years, but someone who has already had three prior felonies will automatically face at least 20 years in prison.

Defenses to Class B Felony

Defenses to Class B felony vary greatly depending on the crime that someone is charged with. Common defenses include:

  • Demonstrating that the prosecution was not able to meet its burden of proof to eliminate reasonable doubt of the accused’s guilt. Attacking their methods of gathering evidence or the credibility of their witnesses is a common strategy.
  • Stating that no crime had been committed, either because of something like mistaken identity, or the actions were taken in self-defense or in the defense of others.
  • Claiming the statute of limitations has lapsed.

Class B Felony Loss of Rights and Benefits

Being convicted of a Class B felony does not just mean that convicts will face a prison sentence and a fine. They will also lose a range of other rights and benefits. They will no longer be able to:

  • Serve on a grand jury
  • Qualify for public housing assistance
  • Work as an accountant, architect, barber, or lawyer
  • Work in a range of jobs in healthcare where licenses or permits are required
  • Vote
  • Receive federal student loans
  • Possess or own firearms

The right to vote is a contentious issue. In some states, including North Dakota and New York, the right is restored automatically once the offender has served the sentence and has paid the fine. Other lost rights, such as being able to own a firearm, can only be restored following a successful court application, which usually also involves completing parole. Regaining civil rights is a complex legal issue and generally requires the assistance of an experienced lawyer.

The issue of housing and employment is equally contentious. However, there is a significant concern about recidivism, with national statistics demonstrating that in excess of 50% of convicted felons will commit further crime. Additionally, it brings legal liability into question, because an employer or landlord could face a civil lawsuit if they hire or rent to a convicted felon who then goes on to commit a crime in which someone else is harmed. In the vast majority of states, however, bonding programs and other incentives are in place to encourage prospective employees to hire those with a record, or to provide them with housing.

Class B Felony Cases


  • What Is a Class B Felony? (n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/what-is-a-class-b-felony.html
  • Class B Felony Definition. (n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.superpages.com/em/class-b-felony/