Felonies, Misdemeanors, and Violations in Delaware
Offenses in the state of Delaware are mainly divided into three categories based on the severity of the crime and punishment: felony, misdemeanor, and violation. Felonies are the most serious categories of crimes while violations make up the least serious category of offenses in the state. Delaware legislature further breaks down crimes and offenses into different classes, apportioning penalties for people found guilty for committing certain crimes, as can be found under the Delaware criminal code. Summarily, Delaware crimes are tried on the basis of the categorization.
What is a Felony in Delaware?
A felony in Delaware is any criminal offense that is punishable by a minimum of one year in prison. Felonies, by nature, are the most severe types of crimes in the state. Therefore, the penalties for these crimes are harsher than other categories like misdemeanors or violations. Delaware has no capital punishment (death sentence). As a result, the maximum punishment for felonies is life imprisonment in accordance with the state code (Del. Code. § 11–4201).. Apart from imprisonments, penalties may include fines, payment of restitution, probation, and other legal sanctions decided by the court or set by public organizations.
Felonies in Delaware are categorized into 7 classes. Each class has a range of presumptive sentences while fines are imposed at the discretion of the judge but may not exceed $500,000 if the felony did not lead to death.
To further structure penalties, sentences are also imposed by levels (I to V) which represent the degree of supervision or probation the convicted person will get.
- Level I is the least restrictive with unsupervised probation
- Level II is supervised probation
- Level III is more intensive supervision
- Level IV is split or house arrest or to a state treatment center; and
- Level V is to be served in jail.
All felony sentences in Delaware are to be served at level V.
The classes of felonies in Delaware with their penalties include:
- Class A felonies: Crimes under this category have the most severe punishment from a minimum of 15 years to a maximum of life imprisonment.
- Class B felonies: Minimum of 2 years, maximum of 25 years imprisonment
- Class C felonies: Maximum of 15 years imprisonment
- Class D felonies: Maximum of 8 years imprisonment
- Class E felonies: Maximum of 5 years imprisonment
- Class F felonies: Maximum of 3 years imprisonment
- Class G felonies: This is the least severe felony category. It also covers crimes that were classified as felonies but remained uncategorized by law. The maximum jail term is 2 years.
From Class B to Class G, crimes in each category may be further classified into two: nonviolent (FBN) and violent (FBV). Furthermore, violent felonies have 24 months of probation, drug felonies have 18 months, and all others have 12 months of probation.
Note: Being convicted of a felony may bring about temporary or permanent loss of rights and other societal issues associated with crimes
What are some examples of felonies in Delaware?
Some examples of crimes that can be categorized under specific classes of felonies are:
- Class A felonies: First-degree murder.
- Class B felonies: First-degree kidnapping, theft (over $100,000), first-degree robbery.
- Class C felonies: First-degree arson, second-degree assault, fourth-degree rape.
- Class D felonies: First-degree perjury, identity theft, money laundering.
- Class E felonies: Extortion, first-degree conspiracy, property theft (over $50,000 and below $100,000).
- Class F felonies: Animal cruelty, first-degree vehicular assault, second-degree criminal solicitations
- Class G felonies: Tampering with evidence, unlawful imprisonment, bigamy.
Can I get a Felony Removed from a Court Record in Delaware?
Expunging a felony record from courts, law enforcement agencies or the State Bureau of Identification depends on certain conditions. The Delaware expungement law states certain conditions for expunging felonies which include:
- The accused was acquitted of all charges
- The plaintiff or prosecutor enters a nolle prosequi i.e. all charges related to the case are dismissed
- The court discharged the accused from probation after fulfilling conditions of the probation
- The individual is acquitted of some of the charges related to the case and the remaining charges were dismissed.
- The individual has no pending criminal charges
- The individual is no longer serving the sentence and has paid all fines
- If the individual seeking to expunge a felony conviction record had not previously expunged a prior felony.
- If the individual has no subsequent or prior conviction for at least 7 years since the date of the felony conviction or day of release, whichever is later.
- The felony the individual was convicted of was not listed in (Del. Code. § 11–4201(c)) or was not a sexual or physical assault crime.
Crimes listed in this section which are not eligible for expungement include but is not limited to the following:
- Aggravated menacing
- Drug dealing and aggravated possession of controlled substances
- First- and second-degree abuse
- First- and second-degree arson
- First- and second-degree assaults
- Hate crimes
- Manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide
- Rape, bestiality and sexual extortion
- Robbery and burglary (both first and second degree)
- Vehicular assaults and homicide
Note: Persons who have been pardoned for certain felonies may also qualify for expungement but it depends on the nature of the crime.
Is Expungement the same as Sealing Court Records in Delaware?
Expunging a record is the same thing as sealing records in Delaware. The Delaware expungement law defines expungement as the destruction, segregation, or removal of any form of records from public view. Once a court issues an expungement order and notifies all agencies who maintain the related records, any electronic or physical record relating to the specific case is to be destroyed or placed in the custody of the SBI. These records will no longer be public but will only be accessible to those with the right clearance, mostly prosecuting and law enforcement agencies.
Moreover, an individual isn’t mandated to reveal information about any arrest, charges, or conviction once expunged. The exception is disclosure for job application into law enforcement agencies or to an officer who is investigating a crime.
Note: Court may keep nonpublic records of expungement orders.
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in Delaware?
Records of arrest, criminal charges, or conviction can stay on a person’s record forever until the individual petitions for expungement, and the court issues the order for expungement. After the order is given, the records must be removed from public view within 60 days.
What is a Misdemeanor in Delaware?
Misdemeanors in any criminal offense that is punishable by a maximum of one-year imprisonment. By nature, felonies are less severe than felonies but more serious than violations. As such, penalties for misdemeanors are also lesser than that of felonies but higher than the punishment of violations. Apart from imprisonment, penalties for misdemeanors may include restitution, fines, probation, or other legal or organizational sanctions.
Misdemeanors in Delaware are categorized into three types: Class A, Class B, and Unclassified misdemeanors. As with felonies, sentences are also imposed by levels (I to V) which indicate the level of supervision or probation the convicted person will get.
Each class has a range of possible sentences in terms of jail time and fines. The classes of misdemeanors in Delaware with their penalties (excluding those set by organizations) are:
Class A misdemeanor: This is the most serious type of misdemeanor offenses. Penalties may include a maximum jail term of 1 year, a maximum fine of $2,300. Organizational fines may not exceed $250,000 if it results in physical injury and may not exceed $100,000 if it doesn’t.
Class B misdemeanor: This has a lesser penalty than Class A misdemeanors. Imprisonment must not exceed 6 months, fines must not exceed $1,150, or both penalties may be imposed. Organizational fines may not exceed $75,000 if it results in physical injury and may not exceed $50,000 if it doesn’t.
Unclassified misdemeanors: This is any crime that is not designated as a felony, class A misdemeanor, class B misdemeanor, or violation. It may also be called an environmental misdemeanor or environmental violation. Penalties of unclassified misdemeanors in Delaware are as specified in the law. If unspecified, incarceration should not exceed 30 days and fines should not exceed $575. Organizational fines are the same as for Class B misdemeanors.
Additionally, in a municipality with a population of over 50,000 people, any offense which has been classified as a misdemeanor under sanitation, housing, building, or health code shall include the following fines:
- From $250 to $1,000 for the first conviction
- From $500 to $2,500 for the second conviction of the same crime
- From $ 1,000 to $5,000 for subsequent conviction after second offense
What are some examples of Misdemeanors in Delaware?
Examples of misdemeanor crimes in Delaware include:
- Resisting arrest
- Simple assault
- Criminal nuisance
- Making a false report
- Possessing a gambling device
- Violating a restraining order
- Disorderly conduct (first offense)
- Petty theft/shoplifting
Can I Get a Misdemeanor Removed from a Record in Delaware?
Yes, certain misdemeanor records in Delaware can be removed in accordance with the conditions provided by the Delaware expungement law. Persons can apply for expungement through the SBI if they were convicted of 1 or more misdemeanors or both misdemeanors and violations relating to the same case if the individual has no subsequent or prior convictions after 5 years.
Exclusions to this rule are records of domestic violence, offenses where the victim is a child or a vulnerable adult, and certain crimes listed underDel. Code. § 11–4373 which include:
- Records of unlawful administration of drugs if the individual was charged in conjunction with a sexual offense
- Records of sexual harassment or of first- and second-degree indecent exposure
- Organized retail crimes
- Hate crimes
- Malicious interference with emergency communication
- Abusing a corpse
- Violation of privacy
- Patronizing a prostitute or promoting prostitution
- Crimes with criminal possession of a dangerous weapon or instrument
Discretionary or court expungement can also be granted under the following conditions:
- The individual was convicted of one or more misdemeanors (other than those listed in Del. Code. § 11–4373) and 3 years have passed since the date of conviction or release, whichever is later.
- The individual was convicted of one or more misdemeanors (listed in Del. Code. § 11–4373) and 7 years have passed since the date of conviction or release, whichever is later.
- The individual has no prior records and committed no offense within the waiting period.
- The individual was unconditionally pardoned of certain crimes that were not violent or sex-related.
Can a DUI Be Expunged in Delaware?
No, there are no statutory provisions for the expungement of DUI convictions in Delaware. However, the expungement of non-convictions can be obtained under section 4372 (b) and 4374 (h) of the Delaware expungement law. Moreover, the Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles may keep DUI convictions on an individual’s driving record for a minimum of 5 years.
What constitutes a Violation in Delaware?
The Delaware state code (Del. Code. § 11–4203) defines violations as a category of offenses that includes any offense that is expressly declared to be a violation in the criminal code or statute. This excludes crimes that are expressed as felonies or misdemeanors. The penalties for violations are the least severe than felonies and misdemeanors. Penalties may be in the form of fines, costs, and restitution. The first offense of any violation may lead to the court imposing a fine not exceeding $345, not exceeding $690 for the second offense of the same offense, and not exceeding $1,150 for the third offense. Fines may be higher for subsequent offenses that occur within 5 years of prior sentences. Level I probation not exceeding one year may also be imposed at the discretion of the judge and organizational fines may not exceed $10,000.
What are some examples of Violations in Delaware?
Some examples of violation offenses in Delaware include
- Public intoxication (first offense)
- Failure to register out-of-state liquor agents
- Obstructing public passages
- Engaging in a crap game
- Maintaining an obstruction (first offense)
Can Violations be Expunged from a Delaware Criminal Court Record?
Yes, records concerning the arrest, charges, or conviction of violations can be expunged under section 4373 (a) of the Delaware expungement law. Persons convicted of one or more violations regarding the same case are eligible for expungement if 3 years have passed since the conviction and there are no prior or subsequent convictions within this period. Records of a case with a combination of violation and misdemeanor convictions can also be expunged after 5 years from the conviction date if the individual has no subsequent or prior records.