Serious judge about to bang gavel on sounding block in the courtFor the purpose of sentencing, most states classify each felony offense into classes (or categories). These categories carry their own standard penalties and minimum sentences to help guide judges during the verdict and sentencing process of the criminal procedure. A felony is any crime that is punishable by a term of one or more years in a state prison. But in Massachusetts, crimes are not categorized; instead, the statute simply includes possible penalties for the type of felony committed. For some, the statutes offer alternative sentencing – such as a shorter term in a county jail.

What is a Felony in Massachusetts?

Because there are no classes or categories in the statute, it can be difficult for offenders to understand what is considered a felony. Any serious crime – such as trafficking, robbery or even homicide – is charged as a felony.

Just some of the felonies and possible penalties a person may be charged with in the state include:

  • First Degree Murder – Includes life in prison or the death penalty.
  • Manslaughter – Includes up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $1,000 and up to 2.5 years in a house of corrections jail.
  • Rape – Includes up to life in prison.
  • Assault with a Deadly Weapon – Includes up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000. In some cases, a person may be allowed 2.5 years in a jail.
  • Breaking and Entering (Daytime) – Includes up to 10 years in prison.
  • Larceny (over $250 in value) – Includes up to 5 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $25,000 or up to 2 years in jail.
  • Distribution of a Class C Controlled Substance (prescription narcotic pain medications for example) – Includes up to 5 years in prison or a 2.5 year jail sentence and/or fines up to $5,000.

Statute of Limitations

While there are not categories, Massachusetts does employ a statute of limitations. There is, however, no limit on when a person can be tried for murder. There is also no limit on any assaults, rape or abuse of children under the age of 14. The other limitations include:

  • Up to 15 years for rape or assaults with the intent to commit rape.
  • Up to 10 years for armed robbery, assaults on individuals over 60 or incest.
  • Up to 6 years for other offenses.

Adequate Representation is Key

Because there are no specific categories or classes – and only potential maximum sentences – it is imperative a person being charged with a felony contact a criminal defense attorney. The range of sentencing options available create a high level of uncertainty during a criminal case, and having an experienced attorney could be the difference between a long prison sentence and a short stint in jail – and possibly even a case dismissal altogether.

Contact Keegan Law Today

If you have been arrested for a felony crime, contact Keegan Law for a case evaluation. We can help you explore your legal options and start working on an aggressive defense. Call us at 617-472-1653 or fill out an online contact form.