What Is a Class 3 Felony?

D. Waldman
D. Waldman
Kidnapping may be considered a class 3 felony.
Kidnapping may be considered a class 3 felony.

In a court of law, there are two basic types of offenses—felonies and misdemeanors. A misdemeanor is a crime that carries a maximum punishment of less than one year, while felonies are those offenses warranting punishments greater than one year. Felonies are further categorized into numeric distinctions, ranging from one to three. A Class 3 felony is the least severe of the three felony categories, often reserved for multiple misdemeanor offenses.

Class 3 felonies can deprive the felon of the right to bear arms.
Class 3 felonies can deprive the felon of the right to bear arms.

A Class 3 felony is punishable by minimum fines up to $10,000 US Dollars (USD) and two to 10 years of prison time. Individual localities, however, may carry much stricter penalties for felony charges, sometimes involving fines up to $100,000 USD and five to 20 years of prison time. While some crimes will carry the maximum sentences, those limits are typically reserved for violent crimes.

Individuals who have committed a felony will face arrest.
Individuals who have committed a felony will face arrest.

Once a crime surpasses the misdemeanor category, it escalates into a felony. Some crimes, for example, will carry a Class A misdemeanor charge for a first offense, a Class B misdemeanor charge for a second offense, and progress to a Class 3 felony charge for the third offense. This is most applicable to convictions such as driving while intoxicated, a non-violent offense. Felonies of this nature may involve only monetary fines and probation and no jail time at all.

Most cases heard in felony court include a preliminary hearing and possible indictment by a grand jury.
Most cases heard in felony court include a preliminary hearing and possible indictment by a grand jury.

Other Class 3 felony convictions, however, can result from first-time offenses which are more severe in nature, including stalking, arson, assault, or kidnapping. These cases are typically tried by a grand jury and require legal representation. If bail is skipped while awaiting trial, an additional Class 3 charge is added to the conviction. A Class 3 felony which is classified as a violent offense will often be subject to the maximum penalties allowed by law.

Aside from the financial consequences and potential jail time, there are other lasting negative effects a felony of this nature can carry with it. Class 3 felonies become part of the offender's permanent record, often hindering future employment opportunities. These offenses can also deprive the felon of the right to bear arms and the right to vote. Even after fines are paid and applicable prison time is served, the felon will also be subject to a parole period in which he is closely monitored by authorities to ensure legal compliance. If further infractions are committed while on parole, additional jail time and fines will be enforced.

Can You Get Probation for Class 3 Felony?

Probation typically is not a punishment meted out for a class 3 felony. Probation is typically reserved for less serious offenses. A class 3 felony is usually punishable by two to 10 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. Depending on the location, the punishment for a class 3 felony may be stricter, with some jurisdictions imposing fines of up to $100,000 and jail time ranging from five to 20 years. In general, the more serious a crime is, the harsher the legal penalty will be. For this reason, the longest sentences are typically reserved for those who commit violent crimes. Despite the fact that class 3 offenders typically do not receive probation, the actual sentence a person receives will be based on the details of their case.

When is Probation Considered an Appropriate Sentence?

As mentioned above, it may be possible to receive a lesser sentence if you are a first-time offender and your felony charges do not involve violence or sex crimes. In some states, such as Arizona, it is possible to be classified as a “non-dangerous” felon. Individuals in this category may be subject to probation instead of jail time.

If a person is convicted of a class 3 felony, their criminal history will come into play. In general, individuals with prior convictions will receive harsher sentences. Even if prior convictions were for misdemeanor crimes, an individual may receive a longer sentence or higher fine.

What is the Difference Between a Class 2 and a Class 3 Felony?

Simply put, a class 3 felony is considered more severe by the legal system. When a person is convicted of a class 3 felony, they will often receive a long sentence and a high legal fine. Crimes such as stalking, kidnapping, and sexual assault are often considered class 3 crimes, so punishments for them are typically more severe. Class 3 felonies, like class 2 felonies, are often tried before a grand jury. If a person facing a class 1 or 2 felony charge skips bail while awaiting trial, they may receive an additional class 3 charge from the court.

Can You Get a Class 3 Felony Expunged?

Having a class 3 felony of one’s record can have lasting negative consequences. When a person has a class 3 felony on their criminal record, they often have extreme difficulty finding employment. They may also lose their right to vote and to bear arms. Even after prison time is served and fines are paid, convicted felons may be required to undergo a parole period where he or she is monitored by the court. With so many consequences to deal with, you may be wondering if it is possible to get a class 3 felony expunged from your criminal record.

In reality, whether you can get a class 3 felony expunged from your record will depend on the state you reside in. Expungement is a process in which the record of a criminal conviction is removed. Expungement is more common for misdemeanors, and convictions involving crimes of extreme violence and those of a sexual nature are almost never expunged. There is typically a waiting period associated with expungement, and often, individuals are forced to wait 10 or more years before they can have a criminal conviction expunged from their record.

How Difficult is it to Get a Conviction Expunged?

Obtaining an expungement is usually not a simple process. Applications are often denied, and more than likely, applicants will need the help of a good criminal defense attorney. If a convicted person does manage to get a conviction expunged from their record, they will not have to deal with many of the post-release consequences they would normally face after serving a sentence.

What Are Aggravating Circumstances?

Sentences for a class 3 felony convictions vary widely and largely depend on the jurisdiction a person is tried in as well as the nature of the alleged crimes in general. Judges do have the power to enhance or reduce sentences for class 3 offenders if he or she believes aggravating circumstances may be present. For example, if a crime was committed in a school zone or if the person who committed the crime possessed a firearm at the time, the overall punishment may be more severe.

Other Aggravating Circumstances

In some states, such as Colorado, violent crimes are considered far more serious, and those convicted can face up to twice the maximum pre-set penalties. In other states, penalties are more severe if a class 3 crime is motivated by hate or the victim is elderly or disabled.

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Discussion Comments

irontoenail

When I was overseas working with a government agency I was surprised to discover that it's a felony to add anything unauthorized to a government owned computer.

I don't think it's a law that gets rigidly enforced all the time, because plenty of people in that office were doing things like putting music on their computers in order to listen to it during the day. I can't imagine someone getting a felony conviction over that, but I'm sure it could happen.

pleonasm

@pastanaga - I think the problem is that so many people think they can get away with it, it doesn't matter how bad the punishment is made to be. It's also a problem that a lot of young people might do it once and if they get caught and the punishment is ridiculously high, they have wrecked their whole lives.

I think the solution might be ensuring that the second offense is treated extremely severely, while the first remains the same as it is now.

pastanaga

Honestly, I think that driving while intoxicated should be a more severe offense than just a class a misdemeanor. I don't see any difference between doing that and firing random shots in the air, hoping that you won't hit anyone.

It seems like it's relatively harmless and maybe even a joke if no one gets hurt. But there is so much potential for a lot of people to get hurt. I've known people who have lost loved ones to drunk drivers and it's just luck of the draw that those drivers happened to kill someone, while others in the same situation got away with it. It's a disgusting, dangerous thing to do and it should be considered more of a crime.

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    • Kidnapping may be considered a class 3 felony.
      By: HaywireMedia
      Kidnapping may be considered a class 3 felony.
    • Class 3 felonies can deprive the felon of the right to bear arms.
      By: Sascha Burkard
      Class 3 felonies can deprive the felon of the right to bear arms.
    • Individuals who have committed a felony will face arrest.
      By: Ariusz
      Individuals who have committed a felony will face arrest.
    • Most cases heard in felony court include a preliminary hearing and possible indictment by a grand jury.
      By: Corgarashu
      Most cases heard in felony court include a preliminary hearing and possible indictment by a grand jury.