What is a Third Degree Felony?

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Let's say you or a friend get charged with a third-degree felony. That sounds serious, right? So, you might panic and wonder what your fate (or friend's fate) would be.

Generally, felonies are considered serious offenses, and they tend to carry dire consequences that could potentially stain your criminal records. But before you wallow in that spiral, have you stopped yourself to ask, "what is a third-degree felony?"

Truthfully, learning all about it could help you understand what to expect when you come before a judge.

Without further ado, let's get into it.

All About Third Degree Felony

The first fact you should know about a felony is that it is a crime, and crime exists on different levels. Although they are generally considered serious crimes, some felonies are more severe than others.

That's why the punishment that accompanies felonies differs by crime level and state. While some felonies can attract jail time for many years, others might get probation, fines, and a few days in jail.

Now, there are different classes of felonies.

Different states classify felony levels differently. While some states use the alphabets A-D or A-I to classify felony levels, others use numbers 1- 3 or 1-6 to classify felonies.

Regardless of the classification system a state adopts, always bear in mind that the most serious felonies usually have the least numbers. Nevertheless, all felony levels are liable to jail time and fines.

Although you might want to consider a third-degree felony as a "not too serious" crime, it could leave a dent in your record.

More so, you'll struggle with blending into society again. Besides, there'll be a few restrictions on some of your activities like the inability to travel to some countries.

There are different types of crimes that are classified as third-degree felonies. Some examples are fraud, assault, child molestation, theft, and driving under the influence.

What Is the Punishment for a 3rd Degree Felony? (By State: Florida, Texas, and Ohio)

The punishment for a third-degree felony varies by state and the nature of the offense in question. When it comes to felony crimes, different states have punishment options for prospective felons.

For instance, in Florida, you would spend a lot of time in jail.

Specifically, felons would have to spend up to 5 years in prison. If you're lucky, you might spend less than 5 years.

In some instances, you might be placed on probation for five years. In other states, you might not face more than three years of jail time. But you may need to pay a fine of up to $10,000.

Texas has a different approach. Convicted felons in Texas would serve jail time ranging from 2 to 10 years. The felony type determines how long you serve in jail.

Of course, you won't only serve jail time. You'll have to pay a penalty fee that's up to $10,000. If you’re in luck, your lawyer may negotiate a fair deal with the judge for you.

Aside from the state law, the type of felony charge depends on the kind of punishment you'll face. In fact, your felony crime might influence the jail time sentence.

For instance, in Ohio, felons might generally not face more than 3 years of jail time. However, if the felony crime is sexual assault, the felon might be looking at a potential 5 years in jail or more.

Comparison Table of Third Degree Felony Punishment in Some States in the US

STATE Third-degree Felony punishment Legal Citation
Texas 2-10 years jail time and a fine of up to $10,000. § 12.34
Florida Up to 5 years jail time and a possible fine of up to $5,000. § 775.082
Ohio 9 to 60 months jail time with a fine of up to $10,000. § 2929.13

Note that the exact punishment you'll get depends on several factors. For instance, the seriousness of the third-degree felony determines the punishment. However, you can get a fair deal if you have an excellent criminal defense attorney.

Probation and Third Degree Felonies: Is It Possible?

In Texas, third-degree felons can get probation instead of jail time. They refer to this as community supervision.

Don't confuse probation with parole, as probation does not require jail time.

In parole, prisoners would have to serve jail time. But with probation, convicted felons are issued a list of strict instructions they must follow. If they fail to abide by the instruction, they risk jail time.

While the probation issued to felons differ, the most common probation issued to felons includes the following;

  • Community service
  • Regular meetings with the probation officer
  • Must not get arrested for other crimes
  • Restitute victims
  • Pass alcohol and drug tests

Note that not all third-degree felonies would get probation. Some more serious felonies in this category would be sentenced to jail time. Thus, you'll need a good criminal defense attorney to bargain a good jail term sentence.

The types of third-degree felonies that are not entitled to probation are:

  • Sexual assault
  • Child molestation
  • Drug abuse and offense within a school environment

No judge would give a probation sentence to the aforementioned crimes.

Degree of Felony Charges

There are different degrees of felony charges. The classification depends on the state. So, it can get confusing.

Nevertheless, here's an easy way to identify felony crimes and the degree or classification they fall under.

First Degree Felony

Remember when I said that the lower the number or classification, the more serious the crime? Well, here you go! First-degree felonies are considered the most serious felony type.

The crimes that fall under this category include kidnapping, rape, and murder.

These crimes are not entitled to probation. In fact, they either get life imprisonment or a death sentence.

Second Degree Felony

This type of felony constitutes a serious offense. However, compared to first-degree felonies, they are less severe.

Some of the crime that falls under this category include robbery, manslaughter, aggravated assault, and gang participation.

In Texas, the penalty for a second-degree felony is a $10,000 penalty fine and 2 - 20 years jail time.

Third Degree Felony

This type of felony is not as serious as a first and second degree.

In fact, a third-degree felony crime doesn't have to include physical contact, like some types of arson.

Fourth Degree Felony

Crimes under this degree are minor compared to crimes in the other degrees. Here, you'll find crimes like Driving Under Influence (DUI). Although, depending on the state, DUI may be classified as a third-degree felony.

Other types of crime under this category include burglary, forgery, criminal threats, and holding a loaded firearm in public.

Sentences for this type of crime differ. You could get jail time, probation, a fine, or a combination of jail time and a fine.

Fifth Degree Felony

Under this degree of felony, you'll find crimes like breaking and entering, collecting and keeping stolen property, fraud, and petty theft.

The sentence for this type of felony ranges from a fine, probation, or jail time.

Process of Determining a Sentence by a Judge

The judge considers some factors when deciding the sentence to issue to a third-degree felony crime defendant. The first action is to consider the state code for such crime.

If the minimum punishment requires that you do jail time for a while, the judge has to abide by it. However, the judge would also consider your criminal record.

Are you a first-time offender? Or a subsequent one? First-time offenders can get probation depending on the type of third-degree felony. Subsequent offenders would surely serve higher jail time and pay higher fines.

Felony vs Misdemeanor

While felonies and misdemeanors are both considered crimes. A misdemeanor is less severe than a felony. As a result, a felony is more likely to get a higher and possibly harsher sentence than a misdemeanor.

Some felony charges include murder (the highest type of felony), arson, and armed robbery. But when we talk about a misdemeanor, you'll find crimes like domestic fights, shoplifting, and other nonviolent crimes.

Aside from the level of severity that distinguishes the two, you'll find that the sentence for felonies is also severe compared to misdemeanors.

With a Felony, criminals can get life imprisonment or years in jail depending on their degree of felony. Some could get off the hook with probation and a fine. Misdemeanors usually round up with less than a year of jail time, probation, or a fine.

Most importantly, people guilty of misdemeanor do not lose any of their civil liberties. But felon criminals could lose a lot of civil liberties, including their right to vote or get elected to any public office.

FAQs: What Is a Third-Degree Felony?

Can You Get Probation for a 3rd-Degree Felony in Texas?

Yes, you can get probation for a 3rd-degree felony in Texas. But it depends on the type of 3rd-degree felony.

What’s the Worst Type of Felony?

The worst type of felony is usually classified as first-degree felonies. They include murder and terrorism.

Can a Felony Be Reduced to a Misdemeanor in Florida?

Yes, the court can reduce a felony to a misdemeanor. But you'll need a good criminal defense attorney to get this.

Can a Felon Get a Passport?

In the modern USA, felons can get a passport if they meet certain requirements.

Some of the requirement includes that you're not awaiting probation, trial, or parole. Also, if you're banned from leaving the country, you can't get a passport.

What Rights Do Felons Lose in Florida?

Felons lose some rights. These rights include the right to vote and serve in public offices or be on the jury.

They would also struggle with being issued or renewing insurance, real estate, and other professional licenses.

Conclusion: What Is a Third-Degree Felony?

At this point, you already have the answer to the question, "what is a third-degree felony."

If you or someone you know has been convicted of a third-degree felony, it's best to reach out to a skilled criminal defense lawyer to discuss your options.

If your lawyer is knowledgeable and you're a first-time offender, you could get only probation as they could build the strongest possible defense case on your behalf. However, you could serve jail time if you're a subsequent offender. But your lawyer can negotiate a plea deal or try to lessen your jail time.


Reference Legal Explanations

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  • " What is a Third Degree Felony?". Legal Explanations. Accessed on June 18, 2024. https://legal-explanations.com/blog/what-is-a-third-degree-felony/.

  • " What is a Third Degree Felony?". Legal Explanations, https://legal-explanations.com/blog/what-is-a-third-degree-felony/. Accessed 18 June, 2024

  • What is a Third Degree Felony?. Legal Explanations. Retrieved from https://legal-explanations.com/blog/what-is-a-third-degree-felony/.