A new law took effect July 1 (Act No. 2023-461), which Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur sponsored, and it adjusts sentences for Class C felonies and modifies the Class D felony. Crimes in Alabama are divided between felonies and misdemeanors. Felonies are further subdivided into four categories: Class A, B, C, and D.
A Class D felony carries a standard sentence of between 366 days to five years, while a Class C felony carries a standard sentence of between 366 days to ten years. Class D offenses include theft of between $500 and $1500, illicit use of a credit card, and, perhaps most commonly, possession of illegal drugs for personal use.
Previously, offenders convicted of a Class D felony, must have received a split sentence, with some time on probation, unless they have already been sentenced to drug court, probation only, or a pretrial diversion program or have a prior conviction for a Class A, B, or C felony. Class D felons were required to be sent to a community corrections jail alternative, while Class C felons may be in prison, a jail-type alternative, or a treatment facility. Class C felons may also be confined in a community corrections program, while Class D felons required this type of jail alternative.
Members of law enforcement, as well as retail merchants, believed a change was necessary. “The possibility of going to jail (under the state’s previous Class D statute) was zero,” Barry Matson, executive director of the Alabama District Attorneys Association, said earlier this year. Matson said Orr’s legislation “returns discretion back to the judge” to give jail time or divert offenders to alternate courts, such as drug court.
Act 2023-461 made numerous changes to Class C and Class D felonies.
The previous restrictions on the use of jail and prison for Class D felonies have been removed – someone convicted of a Class D felony can now be sentenced to jail or prison without previous convictions of two or more Class A or B felonies or any three previous felonies within the structure of the presumptive sentencing standards.
The court now has complete discretion to impose a split sentence or not to impose a split sentence for Class C and Class D felonies now that the amended Section 13A-5-6 removed split requirements in certain instances.
The inchoate crime statutes have now been amended, clearly specifying that inchoate crimes (attempts, conspiracies, solicitations) for Class C offenses are now Class D offenses, and inchoate offenses for Class D offenses are Class A misdemeanors. The inchoate crimes for drug offenses remain punishable at the same felony offense classification designation.
The Act amended the maximum “split” sentencing lengths, increasing the maximum possible split Class C and Class D felonies can receive. Any felony (including Class C and Class D felonies) with a total sentence not exceeding 15 years can receive up to a 3-year split sentence. A felony (including Class C felonies) with a total sentence exceeding 15 years but not exceeding 20 years can receive a split between 3-5 years.
Previously, someone convicted of a Class D felony facing a probation revocation was limited to a maximum of two years or one-third of the original sentence, whichever is less, if the court were to “split” the revocation sentence. That limitation for split revocations for Class D felonies no longer exists.
Max Pulliam, Author
Maxwell H. Pulliam, LLC
For over 30 years, Max Pulliam has defended individuals and companies who are charged with crimes. Prior to law practice, Max was a tax manager at the then “Big-Eight” public accounting firm of Deloitte & Touche and earned a Masters of Law in Taxation. Because of his skills, training and experience, Max concentrates in cases dealing with taxes, banking, fraud, securities and other financial matters. In addition, Max also advises clients who are under government investigation in criminal or regulatory matters. Max also represents clients in civil cases that involve commercial or business disputes.