Misdemeanors vs. Felonies
If you have been charged with a criminal offense in Texas, your biggest concern may be the punishment associated with your criminal charge. In Texas, crimes are grouped into two categories depending on the seriousness of the crime: misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors are not as serious as felonies; therefore, the punishment that can be imposed on someone charged with a misdemeanor is much less than the punishment for a felony. Texas law further breaks down misdemeanors and felonies into sub-categories in order to define punishment ranges. A complete breakdown can be found below:
Class C Misdemeanor
A Class C Misdemeanor is the least serious offense and is not punishable by jail time. The maximum punishment for a Class C Misdemeanor is a fine of up to $500.00. Examples of Class C Misdemeanors include traffic tickets, public intoxications, simple assaults with no injury and disorderly conduct.
Class B Misdemeanor
A Class B Misdemeanor is punishable by up to 180 days (6 months) in a county facility and an optional fine not to exceed $2,000.00. Examples of Class B Misdemeanors include driving while intoxicated, possession of marijuana less than 2 oz. and prostitution.
Class A Misdemeanor
A Class A Misdemeanor is the most serious type of misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 1 year in a county facility and an optional fine not to exceed $4,000.00. Examples of Class A Misdemeanors include assault, unlawful carrying of a weapon, second offense DWIs and DWI with a blood alcohol content over .15.
State Jail Felony
A State Jail Felony is different from other felony offenses for multiple reasons. The first difference is that unlike 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree felonies, someone convicted of a State Jail Felony would serve their time in a state jail facility as opposed to a state prison. Another difference is that someone convicted of a State Jail Felony is not eligible for parole or early release. A State Jail Felony is day-for-day, meaning if you are sentenced to one year in a state jail facility, you will be in there for 365 days with no possibility of early release. The range of punishment for a State Jail Felony is anywhere between 6 months to 2 years and an optional fine not to exceed $10,000.00. Examples of State Jail Felonies include driving while intoxicated with a child, possession of a controlled substance under 1 gram and theft over $2,000.00 but less than $30,000.00.
Third Degree Felony
A Third Degree Felony is the least serious felony in Texas that is punishable by state prison time. The range of punishment for a Third Degree Felony is 2 to 10 years in a state prison and an optional fine not to exceed $10,000.00. Examples of Third Degree Felonies include a third DWI or more, unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon, deadly conduct with a weapon, kidnapping and assault family violence cases where choking is involved.
Second Degree Felony
A Second Degree felony is punishable by state prison time. The range of punishment is 2 to 20 years in a state prison and an optional fine not to exceed $10,000.00. Examples of Second Degree Felonies include sexual assault, intoxication manslaughter and aggravated assault.
First Degree Felony
A First Degree Felony is the most serious classification of felonies and is also punishable by state prison time. The range of punishment for a First Degree Felony is 5 to 99 years to life in a state prison and an optional fine not to exceed $10,000.00. Examples of First Degree Felonies include sexual assault of a child, aggravated assault of a public servant, aggravated robbery and aggravated kidnapping.
As you can see, all crimes are serious and there are consequences to be faced no matter what type of crime you are charged with. If you are facing criminal charges, it is important to speak with an attorney who is well-versed in criminal law.
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