The list of crimes that might be charged as third-degree felonies is large, differs from state to state, and depends on the circumstances of the crime, as well as the offender's criminal history. Examples of third-degree felonies include elder abuse, assault and battery, drug possession, driving under the influence, child molestation, arson, transmission of pornography, embezzlement, theft, and fraud.
Penalties for third-degree felonies
Laws and penalties vary from state to state, but in general a third-degree felony is punishable by jail time of not less than 2 years and not more than 10 years, and by a fine of not more than $10,000 (subject to change). The level of felony charged and the resulting penalty will vary depending on the severity of the crime and whether there were special circumstances, such as if a gun was used.
If you are charged with a third-degree felony
If you are charged with a third-degree felony, you should hire an attorney who specializes in criminal cases to represent you as soon as possible. The importance of having experienced legal counsel cannot be overstated. Criminal cases are very complicated, and many are won or lost on technical or procedural matters. Your attorney will explore the specifics of your case to see if any procedural rules have been broken or any of your rights have been violated. An experienced criminal attorney can make good recommendations as to whether a plea bargain to settle the case or a trial is your best option. In the meantime, you may have to go to jail, or you may be able to post bail and remain free pending your trial or settlement of your case.
If you are taken into police custody in the United States, you have basic rights known as Miranda warnings (named after the court case that established these rights). Note that police do not have to give these warnings if you are not in custody. Miranda rights are the following:
- The right to not speak to police.
- The right to see your lawyer.
- The right to have the court provide an attorney if you can't afford to hire one.
At trial, you have other rights as well: the right to a lawyer, a speedy and fair trial, to call witnesses, to not testify, and to not be tried twice for the same crime.
What a third-degree felony case may cost
If you hire an attorney, you should expect to pay reasonable attorney fees. Attorneys' fees depend on their experience and areas of expertise. This is money worth spending when it comes to third-degree felony cases.