What is a Class 3 Felony?

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  • Written By: D. Waldman
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 27 February 2020
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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.

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.

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.


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.


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Post 3

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.

Post 2

@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.

Post 1

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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