Defense Attorneys for State Felonies and Misdemeanors in Wise County, Texas

 

Classification of State Felonies

A felony in Texas is a criminal offense that carries a risk of incarceration in the penitentiary system, as opposed to the more common “jail system” that most people are familiar with. The penitentiary system in Texas consists of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (“TDC”), Institutional Division, or a Texas State Jail Facility.  Most State Felonies also carry the potential possibility for a sentence of a felony probation term.  Texas classifies its felonies by five (5) different levels, which are listed below from the most serious to the least serious:

  • Capital Murder. Capital Murder is the most serious felony in the State of Texas and carries a potential sentence of death or “capital life,” which means one must serve a minimum of 40 years in prison before becoming eligible for parole.
  • First-Degree Felonies. First-Degree Felonies carry a wide-range of potential sentences, depending on the severity of the crime charged.  Certain violent crimes can carry a life sentence of incarceration in TDC, the majority of crimes in this felony range, however, carry a potential sentence of incarceration in TDC from a minimum of 5 years to a maximum of 99 years.  There is also a possible probation option, although never a guarantee, which carries a minimum of 5 years and a maximum of 10 years of felony probation.  In addition to incarceration or probation, the punishment for a first-degree felony can also include punishment in the form of a monetary fine of up to $10,000.00
  • Second-Degree Felonies. Second-Degree Felonies carry a potential sentence of incarceration in TDC ranging from a minimum of 2 years to a maximum of 20 years; or a possible probation option of a minimum of 2 years and a maximum of 10 years of felony probation.  In addition to incarceration or probation, the punishment for a second-degree felony can also include a punishment in the form of a monetary fine of up to $10,000.00
  • Third-Degree Felonies. Third-Degree Felonies carry a potential sentence of incarceration in TDC ranging from a minimum of 2 years to a maximum of 10 years; or a possible probation option of a minimum of 2 years up to a maximum of 10 years of felony probation. In addition to incarceration or probation, a third-degree felony can also include punishment in the form of a monetary fine up to $10,000.00.
  • State Jail Felonies. State Jail Felonies carry a potential sentence of incarceration in a Texas State Jail facility for a minimum of 180 days to a maximum of 2 years; or a possible probation option of a minimum of 2 years up to a maximum of 5 years.  In addition to incarceration or probation, a state jail felony can also include punishment in the form of a monetary fine up to $10,000.00.

 

Classification of State Misdemeanors

A misdemeanor in Texas is a less serious criminal offense than a state felony offense, and generally constitutes a minor crime.  Although State Misdemeanors are less serious than State Felonies and generally constitute minor crimes, upon a conviction most State Misdemeanors still carry the possibility of incarceration; however, misdemeanor convictions carry the risk of incarceration in a County Jailwithin the State of Texas (usually in the county jail for the county in which the crime was committed), not in the Penitentiary/Texas State Prison System.  And, as with a state felony offense, most State Misdemeanors also carry the potential for a sentence of a misdemeanor probation term.  Texas classifies its Misdemeanors by 3 different levels, which are listed below from the most serious to the least serious:

  • Class A Misdemeanors. Class A Misdemeanors are the most serious misdemeanor crimes in the State of Texas, and carry a potential sentence of up to 1 year in county jail, a possibility of probation for a maximum term of 2 years, and a monetary fine of up to $4,000. The most common of these offenses include driving while intoxicated-2d offense; possession of marijuana, 2-4 ounces; criminal mischief; theft; and assault.
  • Class B Misdemeanors. Class B Misdemeanors are punishable by up to 6 months in county jail, a possibility of probation for a maximum term of 2 years, and a monetary fine of up to $2,000. These most common of these offenses include driving while intoxicated-1st offense; possession of marijuana under 2 ounces; evading arrest; evading detention; and failure to identify.
  • Class C Misdemeanors. Class C Misdemeanors are punishable by a maximum monetary fine of up to $500 and the possibility of unsupervised probation for a short period of time (usually 30-90 days, but not more than 180 days), and do notcarry any risk of jail time (unlessyou violate a promise to pay or promise to appear on a Class C Misdemeanor ticket or charge, for which a warrant for your arrest may then be issued). The most common of these offenses include traffic violations, petty theft, disorderly conduct, public intoxication, open container, and “offensive contact” assault.

 

Types of Probation for State Felonies and Misdemeanors:

There are two types of probation in Texas, which are generally available for most state felony and misdemeanor crimes.  An explanation of these two types of probation and their distinctions are set forth below:

  • Deferred Adjudication. Deferred Adjudication is available for most felony and misdemeanor cases, and has two distinct aspects, one positive and one negative. The positive aspect of deferred adjudication, is that an individual who receives deferred adjudication, rather than regular probation, will not have a conviction upon successful completion of the term and all required conditions of the deferred adjudication.  The negative aspect of deferred adjudication is that an individual who does not successfully complete the term and/or all required conditions of the deferred adjudication will be subject to revocation, and if revoked, will then be subject to the full range of available punishment for the crime for which they were initially charged.  For example, an individual who violates the term and/or required conditions of a deferred adjudication sentence for a First-Degree Felony and has their deferred adjudication sentence revoked by the court is then subject to incarceration in TDC for up to 99 years.  This is the case regardless of how much time you have served of your deferred adjudication sentence, in other words, it does not matter if you have served 1 day or if you only have 1 day left to serve, in either situation you would be subject to the full range of punishment for the crime for which you were initially charged.

It is important to note here that Deferred Adjudication is no longer allowed in Texas for any DWI offense, whether it be your 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 8th DWI offense, you are not eligible for Deferred Adjudication by law.  You are, however, still eligible for Regular Probation, which is described below.

  • Regular Probation. Regular Probation is also available for most felony and misdemeanor cases, and it also has two distinct aspects, one negative and one positive. The negative aspect is that the individual who is placed on regular probation will have a conviction for the crime for which they were charged, regardless of whether or not they successfully complete the term and conditions of the regular probation sentence. If one performs perfectly on probation and is so well-behaved that they are able to convince a Judge to grant them an early release, it will not change the fact that such individual will still have a conviction for the original crime charged, which will show up as a conviction with either a finding of guilt or plea of guilty on any standard background check.  The positive aspect of regular probation is that an individual who does not successfully complete the term and/or required conditions of the probation will also be subject to revocation, but if revoked the prison term is never more than the maximum term available for the Misdemeanor or the Felony originally charged or 10 years, whichever is less.

 

Collateral consequences of a criminal conviction

These can include loss of driver license, the right to vote, immigration status, the right to bear arms, professional licenses, employment, school suspension, and lifetime registration as a sex offender.

Contact Steven Williams, a Decatur and Wise County Texas misdemeanor criminal defense lawyer, for more information.

If you have been charged with a misdemeanor and would like more information about my services, please don’t hesitate to contact The Law Offices of Steven Williams today for more information. I am happy to leverage my experience and significant knowledge of criminal defense to ensure that you receive a positive case result. Give the Decatur, Texas Criminal defense lawyers at The Law Offices of Steven Williams a call at (940) 627-6060 today!

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