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Difference Between a Felony and Misdemeanor: A Texas Attorney Explains

Texas criminal defense lawyerThe old saying that time is money is particularly true when it comes to criminal laws in Texas. Divided into two broad categories, misdemeanors and felonies, the penalties you could face if convicted are either fines, incarceration, or both.

The severity of the sentence depends on the severity of the crime. If convicted of the lowest form of a misdemeanor, you may only face a fine. If convicted of a serious misdemeanor, you may also be incarcerated.

The same is true for felonies, which are considered far more serious crimes. Being convicted of any type of felony usually means you are looking at prison time. If you already have a criminal record, you’ll be looking at an even longer sentence.

Attorney Amanda Webb is an expert on the Texas criminal code and can best help you sort through your case. Your first call should be to Attorney Webb, who knows how to aggressively defend you.

Here’s how things play out according to the Texas Penal Code, Title 3, Chapter 12.

Misdemeanors

Misdemeanors are classified into three categories, according to their severity.

Charges may include:

  • Shoplifting and theft
  • Failure to pay child support
  • DWI (first and second offense)
  • Minor drug possession
  • Driving without license
  • Harassment
  • Assault with injury
  • Jumping bail
  • Carjacking
  • Indecent exposure
  • Speeding
  • Unlawfully carrying of a weapon

Punishments for Misdemeanors

Class A: A fine not to exceed $4,000; confinement in jail for a term not to exceed one year; or both fine and confinement.

Class B: A fine not to exceed $2,000; confinement in jail for a term not to exceed 180 days; or both fine and confinement.

Class C: A fine not to exceed $500.

Felonies

Felonies are also classified by categories: capital, first-, second-, third-degree, and state jail felonies.

Charges may include:

  • Kidnapping
  • Rape
  • Sexual assault
  • Arson
  • Manslaughter
  • Murder/homicide
  • Child sex trafficking
  • Aggravated robbery/theft
  • DWI (third offense)
  • Possession of 50 pounds or more of marijuana
  • Improper student-teacher relationship
  • Bribery

Punishments for Felonies

Capital Felony:

  • If the state of Texas seeks the death penalty, then either death, or life in prison without parole.
  • If the state of Texas does not seek the death penalty, life. If the individual committed the offense when younger than 18 years of age, parole is then possible.
  • Mandatory life without parole, if the individual committed the offense when 18 years of age or older.

First-Degree Felony:

  • Prison for any term of not more than 99 years or less than 5 years.
  • In addition to imprisonment, a fine not to exceed $10,000.

Second-Degree Felony:

  • A prison term of not more than 20 years or less than 2 years.
  • In addition to imprisonment, a fine not to exceed $10,000.

Third-Degree Felony:

  • A prison term of not more than 10 years or less than 2 years.
  • In addition to imprisonment a fine not to exceed $10,000.

State Jail Felony:

  • A complex set of punishment depending on whether the person used a deadly weapon, tried to flee, or knew a deadly weapon was going to be used.
  • Broadly, the punishment calls for 180 days to two years imprisonment and no more than a $10,000 fine.

No matter how minor the crime, you need legal representation

Whether you’re facing misdemeanor or felony charges, the consequences can be serious and life-long. An experienced Texas criminal defense attorney can help you fight the charges in court and avoid a lengthy prison sentence and hefty fine. Contact DWI lawyer Amanda Webb to review your case and discuss your options.