Title "Class X Felony"; scales, hand cuffs, police car, LAW book

Crimes that carry severe consequences are typically designated into one of two categories: misdemeanors or felonies. Misdemeanors are less severe crimes, while felonies are significantly more serious. Within the category of felony charges, there are various criminal charges an individual might face based on the severity of the felony. The most severe are class X felonies. But what is a class X felony in detail? 

In most states, a crime becomes much more severe if there is a weapon involved. When this occurs, the charges are typically higher-level felonies. If there is violence involved, even without a weapon, it also becomes more severe and will be classified as a higher-level felony. In the case of felonies, breaking into a home is a crime in and of itself, but breaking into a home and then hurting the people who live there and subsequently setting it on fire is far worse. That is why states have different classes of felony charges, including crimes that start with X. 

What Is Class X Felony?

In most states, there are different class x felony examples. They are often given an associated letter, name, or degree to indicate the severity of the crime. In Illinois, crimes that start with X are the most severe crimes you can be charged with.

The U.S. categorizes felony X meanings as follows at the federal level:

Class A

Maximum prison term: Life imprisonment (or death)

Maximum fine: $250,000

Probation term: 1–5 years

Maximum supervised release term: 5 years

Class B

Maximum prison term: 25 years or more

Maximum fine: $250,000

Probation term: 1–5 years

Maximum supervised release term: 5 years

Class C

Maximum prison term: Less than 25 years but 10 or more years

Maximum fine: $250,000

Probation term: 1–5 years

Maximum supervised release term: 3 years

Class D

Maximum prison term: Less than 10 years but 5 or more years

Maximum fine: $250,000

Probation term: 1–5 years

Maximum supervised release term: 3 years

Class E

Maximum prison term: Less than 5 years but more than 1 year

Maximum fine: $250,000

Probation term: 1–5 years

Maximum supervised release term: 1 year

As shown in the above table, each class of felony has a maximum monetary fine, a maximum prison term, a maximum supervision time after release, and a maximum probation term after your release. The class A felonies at the federal level are the same as class X felonies at the state level. Individual states can enforce this prison sentence and the fine, as well as the probation sentence, based on these federal laws. 

Examples of Class X Felony

Class X felony examples include the following: 

  • Robbery, particularly aggravated robbery, which means violent robbery

  • Involuntary manslaughter

  • Residential burglary, particularly of a violent nature

  • Arson

  • Kidnapping

  • Involuntary manslaughter, or murder that was not premeditated

  • Child pornography

  • Possession of substantial quantities of a controlled substance, usually with the intent to distribute 

This is not an exhaustive list, but the above are some of the most common class X felonies.

If you’re charged with a felony, and the crime you allegedly committed involves aggravating factors, you can be charged with a felony class X. Aggravating factors are when a person uses severe violence during the crime. 

For example: Setting a building on fire is against the law, but going into that building and hurting people, tying them up so they cannot escape, and then setting fire to that building is much more severe. These types of circumstances could qualify for more severe penalties, as these circumstances would likely be considered aggravating factors. 

Class X Felony Sentencing

The penalties for a class X felony include mandatory prison time. The required class X felony jail time is 6 to 30 years.

For example: If you are charged with kidnapping a child on their walk home from school, it might qualify as a class X felony, but you would likely receive a less severe sentence compared to a situation where there was sexual assault involved or a violent home invasion in order to kidnap the child in question. 

This class of felony charges differs from other criminal charges in that prison time is mandatory. For example, if you are convicted of a misdemeanor and you don’t have a significant criminal background, a judge might choose to let you off with 6 months of probation and community service instead of jail time. They may also make you pay a substantial fine. Even if you are convicted of a lesser felony, the judge might sentence you only to one year in county jail instead of prison or one year in prison with the possibility of parole so that you don’t have to serve your entire sentence in prison.

When you’re convicted of a class X felony, these more lenient penalties are not possible because of the mandatory minimum sentences. A minor felony might generate a sentence of just one, two, or three years in prison, whereas the minimum class X felony jail time is 6 to 30 years.


Overall, a class X felony is one of the most serious charges a person can face. While there are many crimes that fall under the class X felony meaning, they all share the similarity of being associated with aggravated violence. If facing charges for aggravated crimes, it is likely to be categorized as a class X felony.

In that case, it is recommended that an individual seek counsel immediately and take care of their duties and assets while being incapable during prison time. A general power of attorney form can help specify all activities where another individual must make decisions instead of the one who committed an X felony. This can include financial affairs, signing legal documents, handling business deals, etc.

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