A class 3 felony is one of the more serious types of felony crimes in Arizona. The sentencing range for a class 3 felony is typically between 2 and 8.75 years for a first-time offender. But the amount of prison time can increase to 25 years for a defendant with multiple prior felony convictions. A conviction may also result in fines and restitution payments. If a person charged with a class 3 felony has never been convicted of a felony before, then probation may be an option.
What is a Class 3 Felony in Arizona?
A class 3 felony is a specific category of crime in Arizona.
Arizona law divides crimes into two broad categories: felonies and misdemeanors.
Misdemeanors are considered less serious than felonies. The possible fines are lower, and jail time is limited. Felonies, on the other hand, can result in a term in the department of corrections (i.e., state prison) for many years. A felony conviction will also result in the defendant losing their right to vote and to bear arms.
Felony crimes are divided into six specific categories:
- Class 1 felonies;
- Class 2 felonies;
- Class 3 felonies;
- Class 4 felonies;
- Class 5 felonies; and
- Class 6 felonies.
Each category has its own range of potential punishments, with class 6 felonies being the least severe and class 1 felonies the harshest. A class 3 felony is among the more severely punished range of crimes.
Examples of Class 3 Felonies
There are over 40 different class 3 felony crimes in Arizona. Common class 3 felonies include:
- Certain dangerous crimes against children;
- Certain types of aggravated assault;
- Discharging a firearm at a non-residential structure;
- Sexual abuse (if the victim is under the age of 15);
- Burglary in the second degree;
- Theft of a means of transportation;
- Transportation and sale of narcotic drugs or dangerous drugs.
A complete list of the types of class 3 felonies under Arizona law can be found here.
Punishments for Class 3 Felonies
The punishment that could result from a violation of a class 3 felony depends on a number of questions. How many prior felonies does the defendant have? Is the crime charged as a “dangerous” offense (i.e., does it involve the use of a deadly weapon)?
The sentencing ranges for non-dangerous class 3 felonies are:
- No prior felonies: Probation eligible, or 2 to 8.75 years in prison.
- One prior felony: 3.25 to 16.25 years.
- Two or more prior felonies: 7.5 and 25 years.
So how does a defendant know what sentence he will receive within the sentencing range? If a defendant is convicted of a class 3 felony, the judge makes the decision of how much time he will receive in prison within the applicable range. If the judge finds that the mitigating factors outweigh the aggravating factors, the defendant may receive a lighter sentence. But if the judge finds that the aggravating factors outweigh the mitigating factors, the sentence will be harsher.
If a class 3 felony is charged as a “dangerous” offense because a gun or other type of dangerous weapon was used in the crime, then the defendant will be sentenced under an enhanced sentencing range for “dangerous” crimes. Dangerous crimes are not eligible for probation, even for a first offense. A first-time dangerous offender will be sentenced to prison for 5 to 15 years for a class 3 felony.
Statute of Limitations for Class 3 Felonies
A “statute of limitations” determines how long the prosecution has to bring criminal charges against a person after a crime is committed. According to ARS 13-170, the statute of limitations for class 3 felonies is seven years.
Note: The time limits in the statute of limitations only apply when the defendant is present in the state of Arizona. Being absent from the state “stops the clock,” so that the time away from Arizona does not count towards the 7-year statute of limitations.