The Federal Bureau of Investigation reported that larceny-theft and aggravated assault are the most common types of serious crimes in 2020. Both offenses are class C felonies in most states, such as Tennessee and New York.
What is a class C felony, and how serious is it? What are the punishments, fines, and consequences for the convicted?
In the United States, a felony is a severe crime punishable by imprisonment and, in some cases, with fines, according to the judge’s decision. State legislation categorizes its list of felonies into classes or levels.
A felony conviction will likely result in jail or prison time. In such cases, family members will have to adapt to the situation of their incarcerated loved one and try to maintain contact with each other.
If you need a way to coordinate with the prison facility your loved one is located, you can visit LookUpInmate.org.
In case you’re working with your loved one’s legal team for a motion to reconsider the verdict or expunge a criminal record, you can use this website as a records locator.
What Is a Class C Felony in the U.S.?
A class C felony is a subcategory of felonies in the United States. Class C is a crime in the midrange level but not as severe as a class A or B felony offense.
However, regardless of class, a felony charge is a serious crime that can lead to incarceration, depending on the severity of the crime and the judge’s decision.
States That Have Class C or Level 3 Felonies
Here are some states with Class C or Level 3 felonies. Note that some states, like California, categorize felonies by crime.
- Alabama: Has class A, B, or C
- Arkansas: Has class Y, A, B, C, or D
- Delaware: Has class A to G
- Michigan: Has class A to H
- North Carolina: Has class A to I
- South Carolina: Has class A to F
- New York: Has AI, AII, AIII, to E
Note that other states categorize felonies by numbers instead of letters. In states like Florida, they use first, second, and third-degree categories instead of letters.
Types of Class C Felony
Class C felony is an entire category of crimes with a mid-level severity. In most cases, these crimes may be punishable by incarceration in state prisons and fines if the judge decides to do so.
Here are some types of class C felonies in the United States:
- Building arson
- Operating while intoxicated (OWI) leading to vehicular homicide
- Having a prior conviction of OWI
- Second-degree sexual assault
- Homicide as a result of administering, buying, and selling controlled substances (schedule I and II).
Felonies can also be categorized into two types:
- Nonviolent felonies: These are crimes that don’t involve bodily harm and are mostly limited to property crimes like burglary.
- Violent felonies: These crimes involve bodily injury, verbal threats, and attacks.
What Are Some Examples of Felony Crimes?
Felonies are serious crimes that receive harsher punishments than misdemeanors and infractions.
A successful felony conviction will most likely lead to imprisonment in a state or federal prison instead of a county jail. In states like Wisconsin, a class C felony can result in 40 years of imprisonment term.
Examples of Class C Felony Crimes and Penalties
The United States doesn’t have a unified code for criminal law. State laws differ in how they penalize and punish felonies.
However, all states agree to place harsh penalties and severe prison sentences for crimes of this level. The following is a list of class C felony penalties in the selected states.
- Arkansas: The state has five felony categories (Y, A, B, C, and D), with Y being the highest. The penalty for class C felonies ranges from 3 years to 10 years in prison and a maximum of $100,000 fine.
The penalty can be stringent for repeat offenders with prison terms that could lead to 40 years maximum term of imprisonment.
- Florida: The state law classifies felonies as capital or life felonies and first, second, and third-degree felonies.
Florida legislation states that the punishment for a class C or third-degree felony charge ranges from one-year incarceration to ten years and a maximum fine of $10,000. Rape, robbery, and larceny are class C felonies in Florida.
- Indiana: The state law classifies felonies into six categories (1 to 6). Level 3 felony is the equivalent of class C.
A person convicted of a level 3 felony may face a maximum prison time of five years and a maximum fine of $5,000.
What Crimes Are Considered Class C Felonies?
States have different lists of criminal offenses under the class C felony category. For example, in Wisconsin, here is a list of crimes the state regards as class C felonies:
- Armed robbery and bank robbery
- Sex offenses, including second-degree sexual assault with a child, incest with a child, sexual assault of a foster child, and sexual assault of a child under a substitute care facility
- First-degree reckless homicide
- Intentional and serious bodily harm
What Sentence Could Be Imposed if You’re Convicted of a Felony?
As mentioned above, felony charges tend to have higher fines and longer sentences compared to misdemeanors. However, there are instances where felonies are given probation. Still, the decision always rests on the judge.
Sentencing, Prior Criminal Record
A defendant’s prior convictions can profoundly affect the decision and sentence-making of the judge. In states like California with a “three-strike” law, a prior conviction can lead to longer prison sentences.
When the offender rakes in two serious felony charges, the following conviction will result in 25 years to life imprisonment sentence. The three-strike policy is controversial legislation that gives fangs to California’s criminal law.
Felony Classes and Sentences in the U.S.
In state laws, serious crimes are categorized into felony classes to organize the statutes in criminal law. Each class has its severity level, with a corresponding “prescribed” penalty, fine and prison time.
What Are the Punishments for Class C Felonies?
Whenever there’s a felony case, prison time is always on the table. A defendant charged with a felony can spend years on end in prison.
It’s for this reason that defendants faced with felonies hire the services of criminal defense lawyers to help them navigate through the confusing labyrinth of legal proceedings.
How to Reduce Penalties for Class C Felony Charges
There are four ways to help defendants reduce their penalties for felony charges. However, they will need legal advice.
- Accept a plea bargain when offered. A defendant can make a deal (arrange a plea bargain) with the prosecutor in exchange for a settlement or a lesser sentence. Once both parties accept the plea bargain, the prosecutor drops the felony charge.
- Complete a diversion program. For cases that are not serious, a defendant can complete a diversion program to lessen the charge. However, there are cases where the defendant must first admit guilt.
- Request probation. This option is only available in certain criminal offenses. Still, probation is a way to avoid prison. The defendant will have to strictly adhere to the conditions of probation or face the possibility of going to prison.
- Build a strong case. Another way that can help lower or dismiss the case is to have a good defense for a felony charge. The services of a competent lawyer are crucial to building a solid defense.
Defenses for a Class C Felony in the U.S.
To build a strong defense against a felony charge, the defendant and their team must gather all the facts, evidence, and credible witnesses that will support their stand in a felony hearing.
How Do You Defend My Felony Case?
If you’re the defendant in a felony case, your best ally is your legal team. They know the legal system’s statutes, laws, and technicalities.
It would be difficult to prove one‘s innocence alone. So, having a competent criminal defense lawyer is best in this tight situation.
What Are Some Defenses to Class C Felonies?
Here are some defenses a defendant can take during a felony hearing. Note that a defendant needs the help of a competent legal team to use the following felony defenses.
- Having a good alibi: The defense team can establish that the defendant couldn’t have committed the alleged crime because they were not present at the moment of the act.
- Being mistaken for another: Even while discounting or invalidating the testimonies of victims and witnesses, the strained emotional state of someone during a criminal act in progress can affect how people remember things.
Thus, it’s possible that someone has mistaken the defendant as the culprit because of their resemblance to the actual suspect or offender.
- Going for self-defense: The defense team can establish that the alleged violent crime charged against them was self-defense. They only need to establish evidence that they were in dire danger at the time of the crime, which justifies their response.
- Showing lack of intent: In a criminal case, premeditation, malicious intent, and other evidence that proves a person’s willingness to commit the crime aggravate the criminal act. If the defendant can demonstrate their lack of intent to commit a crime, the defense team can seek a more lenient penalty.
Statute of Limitations
In a criminal case, there’s a specific time window when a prosecutor can file criminal charges called the “statute of limitations.” If the prosecutor files a complaint after that specified window of opportunity, the court will no longer accept it.
Note that the statute of limitations or window of opportunity started when the crime was discovered or reported and not when it was committed.
In most states, class C felonies have a statute of limitations ranging from two to seven years. However, for capital offenses like first-degree murders, there’s no time limit to file a charge.
First-degree murder is the most severe of all homicide offenses in U.S. criminal law. It’s also one of the few felony charges where the death penalty can be imposed, especially in states with this capital punishment.
The requirements for first-degree murder are the willfulness, deliberation, and premeditation of an assailant to end another person’s life.
In the classification of felony charges, a first-degree felony is also labeled as Class A. Other felonies are categorized into different classes, which are explained below.
Class A Felonies
The most serious of all felonies often have the death penalty and life without the possibility of parole as their maximum sentences. The judge may also issue hefty fines and penalties.
Class B Felonies
The second on the list of severe felonies in a state are class B felonies. Examples of these offenses are first-degree assault and criminal use of a firearm. In states like New York, the maximum prison time for this felony class is 25 years, with fines of up to $30,000.
Class C Felonies
This is a mid-level type of felony. In some states, it’s the lowest in a three-tiered classification system.
Class D Felonies
This is also a mid-level felony but less severe than class C. Examples of crimes usually placed under class D may vary in different states.
In Kentucky, stalking and looting are listed under class D felonies. Prison time for class D felonies ranges from one to five years, with fines up to $5,000.
Class E Felonies
This represents one of the least severe crimes in the felony classifications. Examples of class E or level 5 felonies may vary in different states.
In New York, unarmed child abandonment and fourth-degree arson are listed under class E, with up to four years of imprisonment.
How Felony Sentencing Works in the U.S.
Felony charges are heard in court in front of a judge. The prosecution and defense teams submit evidence and witness testimonies that can accuse or acquit a defendant.
The judge then reviews the evidence submitted in court, hears the witnesses, and uses criminal law and jurisprudence to decide.
Criminal History and Sentencing Ranges
The judge considers the defendant’s criminal history when making a decision.
Repeat offenders may get harsher punishments, while first-timers may have lenient sentences unless the crimes are severe. The sentence range depends on the state’s criminal law, which prescribes sentence ranges to guide court decisions.
How Are the Prior Record Level Ranges Determined?
For charges below class A felonies, the defendant’s prior record is considered before sentencing. The court usually uses a point system to determine the level ranges of a defendant.
Each prior conviction has a corresponding point that can affect the judge’s sentence. Note that prior record level ranges may differ in various states.
What Is the Disposition Range?
The disposition range is the sentence length given by the judge. The type of crime and the defendant’s prior convictions influence the sentence length.
There are three types of disposition ranges.
- Presumptive range: This is the standard punishment range prescribed by the state on a particular offense.
- Aggravated range: This is when aggravating circumstances have been considered, resulting in additional punishment terms, like an increased prison sentence.
- Mitigated range: This is when mitigating factors are considered to lower the sentence terms.
Prison, Probation, and Sentence Alternatives
After considering everything said and done in a felony hearing, the judge ultimately decides on the sentence.
For guilty convictions, the judge will determine whether the defendant must go to prison, be placed under probation, or submit to sentencing alternatives like paying fines or doing community services for a specific period.
What’s the Difference Between an Infraction, a Misdemeanor, and a Felony?
Crimes in the U.S. can be divided into three categories:
- Infraction: These crimes typically don’t involve damage to another person’s property or physical harm to anybody. An example of an infraction is a parking violation.
- Misdemeanors: These are crimes that, to some extent, are more serious compared to infractions but less compared to felonies. Unlike infractions, misdemeanors may result in imprisonment of up to one year.
- Felonies: These are severe crimes that may lead to prison time from a few years to a lifetime in jail, hefty fines, and in the case of class A or level 1 felonies, a dire chance of getting the death penalty.
What to Do if You’re Involved in a Class C Felony in the U.S.
The best thing you can do if involved in a class C felony is to acquire the services of a criminal defense lawyer.
A criminal lawyer’s help is invaluable because of their knowledge of criminal law and its technicalities.
How Parole Works in the U.S.
Parole is a privilege given to prisoners after serving considerable time in prison and has shown progress in rehabilitation. Parole is a type of early release where the convicted can serve the rest of their sentence outside prison.
Prisoners who get paroled are usually selected from convicts who have reached parole eligibility. The basic requirements for eligibility are the amount of time served in prison and the type of crime committed.
However, parole eligibility doesn’t automatically mean a parole grant. It simply notifies the parole board of someone who can be placed under this privilege.
A parole board is an agency that handles parole issues and determines whether a person is eligible and worthy of this privilege.
Parole Release and Revocation
Once a parole request has been granted, the defendant is released from prison and placed under the supervision of a parole officer. The parolee must abide by the terms and conditions of parole, knowing that any violation may result in revocation.
Revocation happens when the parole officer determines that the parolee has violated numerous conditions, is deemed unfit for the privilege, may endanger public safety, and should return to prison.
Expunction (Expungement) of Felony Convictions in the U.S.
Expungement is the legal process of ” erasing” a defendant’s criminal record. It’s a way to clear a person’s reputation and provide them with a clean slate to work on as they rebuild their lives after conviction.
However, not all types of crimes can be expunged. In most states, felonies are never erased from records of murder, rape, and other capital offenses.
Enhanced Penalties or Special Categories
States like Tennessee and California have adopted a three-strikes law where repeat offenders of violent crimes may end up serving life sentences on their third conviction.
Legal Options After Being Charged With a Class C Felony
Legal options after receiving a felony charge are to enter a guilty plea and seek the court’s mercy, enter into a plea bargain, or face the charge head-on. When deciding what legal options to take, the defendant must seek the advice of a competent legal expert.
Should You Speak to a Criminal Defense Attorney?
A felony charge is always severe, and the defendant must take specific actions. The first action is to get a lawyer and build a defense. If you’re the defendant, you must contact a lawyer or a law firm immediately.
If you need a handy records locator, you can visit LookUpInmate.org. You’ll have access to more than 7,000 correctional facilities in the country. You can type in the details of the records you want to get, and the page will direct you to the sites where these public documents are available.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
1. How long does a class C felony charge stay on your record in the U.S.?
A felony charge will stay on your public record for life unless expunged. Only a limited kind of felony case has any hopes for expungement.
For example, in California, if the felony didn’t result in incarceration, the record can be placed under automatic conviction relief of the Clean Slate Act AB 1076, which adds the description “relief granted” to a defendant’s criminal history and makes it inaccessible to the public.
2. What’s the lowest felony you can get?
The lowest felony class or level charge you can get depends on the state you are located. If the state only has a three-tiered felony classification system, the lowest is class C or level 3 felony.
2. How much time does a Class C felony carry in the U.S.?
Prison time for class C felonies depends on the state and the crime committed. In Arkansas, a class C felony has a prison sentence range of 3 to 10 years and fines of up to $10,000.
1. What the data says (and doesn’t say) about crime in the United States
3. What Is a Class C Felony?
4. The Facts About Non Violent Felonies
5. Legal Classification of Criminal Offenses
6. Criminal Statutes of Limitations: Time Limits for State Charges
7. First-Degree Murder Under the Law
9. Eligibility for Parole
10. What Is “Expungement?”
11. What Is “Expungement?”