What is a 3rd Degree Felony?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 22 January 2020
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The crimes that might be classed under 3rd degree felony and the charges that could accompany these crimes are highly variable and depend on the region in which a person is charged. In different areas, courts employ distinctive classification systems for felonies. They may use number (1-3 or 1-6) or letter (A-D or A-I) systems to describe crimes. The lowest numbers or letters typically correspond to the most serious crimes, but in truth, all felonies are serious, and a person convicted of one faces mandatory jail time and other penalties like fines. Sentences are usually accompanied by loss of privileges for a set period, such as a loss of voting rights. Moreover, possessing a felony record may make it difficult to successfully reintegrate into society after a sentence is served.

Though there is variance in crimes that might garner a 3rd degree felony charge, people can look to jurisdictions like US states for some examples. There are many egregious crimes that could fall under this heading, including child molestation, driving under the influence, assault and battery, weapon possession, dissemination of child pornography, and certain forms of theft, fraud, and property destruction via methods like arson. In the last examples, there may be several felony degrees that apply to these crimes. Theft, fraud, or willful property destruction might be a 3rd degree felony, rather than a less serious charge, if what is stolen or damaged reaches a certain dollar amount.


The type of sentence that might accompany a 3rd degree felony conviction may depend in part on the crime. People successfully convicted of crimes in this class could expect to serve up to 10 years or longer in jail. Judges usually have discretion in sentencing and can shorten sentences if they feel the circumstances of the crime somehow warrant it. They can also lengthen sentences.

With a conviction, most judges must give a certain amount of jail time, and this is usually no less than two years. Other details might also apply. A person convicted of possessing child pornography or molesting a child might have to register with the courts as a sex offender for life.

A charge of 3rd degree felony is grave and it is not advised that people attempt to defend themselves. Hiring an attorney to create a successful defense is the most logical step. Those who can’t afford to hire representation usually have the option to get assistance from a public defender. This is a right in many countries, including the US. People charged with any form of felony are also advised to take advantage of rights, where they exist, to not communicate with arresting officers or police until they have obtained legal representation.


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Is resisting an arrest without violence considered a third degree felony?

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