What Is a Class C Felony?

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 What is a Class C Felony?

In general, the term “felony” refers to a broad category of crimes that typically involve violence and may lead to a high degree of fault and/or damages. The damages resulting from a felony crime can be physical, emotional, financial, or property related. Given the serious nature of these offenses, most defendants who are convicted of a felony crime receive a prison sentence of at least one full year and some amount of criminal fines. 

Depending on the jurisdiction, felony crimes are often further divided into separate subcategories by either letters or numbers. For example, states that use an alphabetical system like New York will use subcategories, such as Class A, Class B, Class C, and so forth, to denote the severity of the crime. Class A felonies are usually crimes that cause severe bodily injury or death (e.g., first-degree or second degree-murder).

Other states like Colorado separate felony crimes by degrees (e.g., Class 1, Class 2, Class 3, etc.). In states that classify felony crimes by degrees of intensity, a Class 1 felony (e.g., felony-murder) will be considered the equivalent of a Class A felony.

Accordingly, a Class C felony is a subcategory of felony crimes that apply to criminal offenses that are serious, but are not as serious those classified as Class A/1 or Class B/2 felonies. Also, while Class C crimes are still felonies, the legal penalties are not as harsh as the ones reserved for Class A/1 or Class B/2 felony convictions since these are only midrange crimes. Thus, two to five years of imprisonment is the average sentence for Class C convictions. 

In addition, each state that employs an alphabetical system may define Class C felonies differently. For example, in New York a defendant convicted of a Class C felony must serve at least 3.5 years in state prison, whereas in Nevada a sentence for a Class C felony may only be two to five years. 

Regardless of which level of felony you are charged with, all felonies are serious crimes that can result in a prison sentence. Therefore, if you are facing charges for a felony offense, it is strongly recommended that you contact a local criminal defense attorney immediately for further advice.  

What is the Difference Between an Infraction, a Misdemeanor and a Felony?

Both states and the federal government generally separate crimes into three broad categories: infractions (or citations), misdemeanors, and felonies. The definitions and penalties for crimes that fall into each category will vary by jurisdiction. 

Generally speaking, infractions tend to be the least serious out of the three main categories of crimes. In most cases, an infraction will only result in having to pay a fine. A common example of an infraction is a standard parking ticket.

Misdemeanors are the second category that crimes may fall under and are midway between infractions and felonies. Thus, the penalties for misdemeanors are usually more serious than those for infractions, but are less serious than the ones for felonies. However, unlike infractions or citations, misdemeanors can result in up to one full year of jail time. Many courts may also impose fines, which can range from $100 to $5,000. 

Some states may also use a classification system to divide misdemeanors into further subcategories as well (e.g., Class A/1 misdemeanors). The different levels or degrees of misdemeanors operate in the same way as the ones for felonies. Some examples of misdemeanors include petty theft, simple battery, and criminal mischief. 

Lastly, as previously mentioned, crimes that are classified as part of the third category of crimes (i.e., felonies) involve the most serious offenses and penalties. For example, in some states, defendants convicted of felony first-degree murder can be sentenced to prison for life or may even receive the death penalty. Some other examples of felony offenses include robbery, bribery, arson, and forgery. 

In addition, felony convictions also have the farthest-reaching consequences and can affect an individual’s life long after they have served their time and paid any fines. For instance, felony convictions may restrict a person’s ability to travel outside of the country, vote in elections, and own a gun. 

What Are Some Examples of Felony Crimes?

There are many different kinds of felony crimes. To get a better sense of how various felony classes and degrees operate, consider the following examples found in each category:

  • Class A or Class 1 felonies: Some common examples of Class A or Class 1 felony crimes include first-degree murder, rape, kidnapping in the first degree, felony-murder, terrorism, and criminal possession of a chemical weapon.  
  • Class B or Class 2 felonies: Some common examples of Class B or Class 2 felony crimes include voluntary manslaughter, robbery, kidnapping in the second degree, hate crimes, and sex crimes that involve children. 
  • Class C or Class 3 felonies: Some common examples of Class C or Class 3 felony crimes include stalking on the Internet, assault on a judge, carjacking, and certain forms of theft in some jurisdictions. 

It is important to note that the above list only consists of general examples. Remember, the definitions, classifications, and penalties for all crimes will vary by jurisdiction. 

For instance, some states may have extended categories for lesser felony offenses, such as Class D/4 and Class E/5, but most stop at Class 3/C. Additionally, there are also a minority of states that have no classification systems and simply assign penalties for each crime under state criminal statutes. 

What are the Punishments for Class C Felonies?

As discussed above, the penalties for Class C felonies will vary based on the facts of a specific case and the laws of the jurisdiction where the defendant is being prosecuted. Also, since Class C felonies tend to be midrange crimes, the penalties that a convicted defendant can receive may be less than life without parole, but will still probably include some amount of jail time. 

The standard amount of Class C felony jail time that a convicted defendant may need to serve is usually somewhere in-between two to five years. However, it is possible to get a longer sentence.

Some other penalties for Class C felonies include monetary fines, parole, probation, restitution, and/or community service. A Class C felony conviction can also lead to a loss of certain rights and benefits, such as restrictions on voting, serving on a jury, owning firearms, and/or securing a job or housing.

What Are Some Defenses to Class C Felonies?

Depending on what Class C felony the defendant is charged with and the laws of the jurisdiction, they may be able to raise a number of defenses, such as:

  • Self-defense or defense of another party;
  • Lack of proof or evidence;
  • Mistaken identity;
  • Lack of intent; 
  • Alibi; and/or
  • Mitigating factors

Should I Speak to a Criminal Defense Attorney?

If you are facing charges for a Class C felony, then there is a strong possibility that you may need to serve time in prison. Therefore, it may be in your best interest to consult a local criminal lawyer for further guidance. An experienced criminal lawyer will be able to analyze and discuss your options. 

Your lawyer will also be able to determine whether there are any defenses you can raise against the charges or can request that you receive a reduced sentence. Additionally, your lawyer can help you prepare a solid defensive argument and can represent you in court or during negotiations for a plea deal.


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