What Is a Second Degree Felony?

In the United States, a second-degree felony is a serious crime, such as manslaughter and robbery, for which the penalty includes prison and fines, according to EnlightenMe. Other examples of second-degree felonies include child molestation, child pornography, sexual assault, aggravated assault, arson, possession of a controlled substance and criminal trespassing.

Sentences for second-degree felonies vary according to the case and the state in which the crime is committed, notes EnlightenMe. The presumptive, or typical, sentence for a second-degree felony is five years of prison, and the minimum sentence is four years of prison.

FindLaw explains that many states have statutes that set forth presumptive sentences intended to assist judges in determining appropriate consequences for crimes. The maximum number of years of prison assigned for a second-degree felony is ten, unless the case involves what is known as “aggravating circumstances,” which Cornell University Law School defines as factors that increase the gravity of a crime, such as lack of remorse, having a prior criminal record and heinousness of the act. Find Law states that other aggravating circumstances include committing a crime in particularly cruel, destructive or vindictive manner. An aggravated sentence is one that entails aggravating circumstances. For a second-degree felony, an aggravated sentence can be up to 12.5 years of prison, according to EnlightenMe.