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How do you know if a federal conviction was for a felony?
January 11, 2013 7:48 AM   Subscribe

How do you know if a federal conviction was for a felony?

The person in question was charged "with participating in a conspiracy to commit the crime of structuring transactions to avoid reporting requirements, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371. "

The person was convicted and sentenced to more than 4 years in prison.

I'm trying to determine if it is accurate for this person to be described as a felon.
posted by foggy out there now to Law & Government (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
The classic definition is that a felony gets you more than a year in prison.

But you'll have to read 18 usc 371 to make sure. It probably says something like "it shall be a felony punishable by X years to knowingly violate ..."
posted by gjc at 7:53 AM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


If two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.
If, however, the offense, the commission of which is the object of the conspiracy, is a misdemeanor only, the punishment for such conspiracy shall not exceed the maximum punishment provided for such misdemeanor.


So it looks like it depends on what the object of the conspiracy was. I suspect, though, with a 4 year sentence, it was a felony.
posted by inturnaround at 7:56 AM on January 11, 2013


Text of 18 USC 371:

If two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

If, however, the offense, the commission of which is the object of the conspiracy, is a misdemeanor only, the punishment for such conspiracy shall not exceed the maximum punishment provided for such misdemeanor.

Because the person was sentenced to 4 years, it sounds like the underlying offense was not a misdemeanor. In that case, the second paragraph does not apply, and the statute authorizes up to a five-year sentence, which makes the conspiracy conviction a Class D felony under 18 USC 3559:

Classification.— An offense that is not specifically classified by a letter grade in the section defining it, is classified if the maximum term of imprisonment authorized is—
[snip]
(4) less than ten years but five or more years, as a Class D felony

posted by payoto at 7:57 AM on January 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


According to the text, it depends on the underlying crime that the conspirators planned.
posted by liketitanic at 7:58 AM on January 11, 2013


Thanks everyone.

In this case, the sentencing guideline was roughly in the range of 90 to 120 months. The "statutory maximum sentence" was 60 months. The amount of money involved in these "transactions" were several million dollars.

Sorry for the lack of specific information in this case, I'm trying to avoid pointing directly to the person in question.
posted by foggy out there now at 8:08 AM on January 11, 2013


18 USC sec. 3156 a (3) reads: "the term “felony” means an offense punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of more than one year."

This person was convicted of an offense punishable by over one year of imprisonment.

This person is a felon.
posted by steinwald at 8:25 AM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Can you not pull the case documents up on PACER and thereby determine the exact conviction?
posted by phearlez at 8:31 AM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Over a year means felon. That was all I needed to see, and the relevant statute seals it.
posted by Tanizaki at 8:42 AM on January 11, 2013


I'm a lawyer, not your lawyer and this is not legal advice. Under federal law, a crime for which the sentence is > 1 year is a felony.
posted by ewiar at 9:51 AM on January 11, 2013


If you want, or need, to be sure, PACER is the only way. It's the same as looking up state court records or going to the county circuit court clerk, only for federal cases.

"Access to court documents costs $0.10 per page. The cost to access a single document is capped at $3.00, the equivalent of 30 pages. The cap does not apply to name searches, reports that are not case-specific and transcripts of federal court proceedings.

"By Judicial Conference policy, if your usage does not exceed $15 in a quarter, fees for that quarter are waived, effectively making the service free for most users."

posted by dhartung at 3:11 PM on January 11, 2013


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