Charged with a Crime in Texas?
Criminal Defense Lawyers Explain Charges and Penalties
A criminal conviction can drastically affect the rest of your life. You may face the possibility of jail time, fines and other penalties, and your reputation may be damaged. Additionally, a conviction may prevent you from finding work and/or housing in the future. Since so much hangs in the balance, you should always work a criminal defense lawyer with a history of success. Even innocence is not always an ironclad defense – law enforcement and prosecutors may not care about your side of the story, but will simply focus on getting a conviction. An attorney can work to enforce your rights and expose any misconduct or negligence that may have led to your arrest. In many cases, a good lawyer can get your charges or penalties reduced, minimizing the negative impact on your life.
If you have been arrested or someone you know was taken into police custody, then you should find a lawyer as quickly as possible. No matter what kinds of charges you face, from a misdemeanor to a felony, finding an attorney you trust is essential. To speak with a local Texas criminal lawyer today, consult our local listings.
What Are the Basic Types of Criminal Charges?
The type of criminal charge you face may vary depending on the nature of the alleged crime. Although each state has its own specific classifications, the general types of charges are:
- Infraction. An infraction is the least serious type of charge you can face. In fact, some states handle infractions as civil cases, rather than criminal cases. Traffic violations and other minor offenses usually fall into this category. Jail is generally not a possibility for infractions, so you are not entitled to a jury trial and the state will usually not appoint you a lawyer. However, you can still hire one of your own.
- Petty offense. Some states categorize low-level criminal conduct as petty offenses. This may include illegal acts like gambling, disturbing the peace, public indecency, pollution violations and theft of items of low value.
- Misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is a more serious charge and county courts typically handle these cases. Common misdemeanor charges include assault, criminal trespass, theft and certain drug crimes, including possession and sale.
- Felony. This is the most serious type of criminal charge and state and/or federal courts usually handle these cases. Common felonies include murder, kidnapping, sexual assault, robbery, vehicular homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary and certain drug crimes.
In some cases, a criminal defense lawyer can negotiate on your behalf with the prosecution to reduce the severity of the charges you face. If the court reduces your charge from a low-level felony to a misdemeanor, for example, then the repercussions you face may be much less serious.
What Is the Penalty for a Misdemeanor in Texas?
Each state has its own system for classifying misdemeanor and felony charges, and penalties may vary as well. Misdemeanors in Texas are crimes each punishable by up to one year in local or county jail, and are categorized as Class A, B, or C; A being the most serious, and C being the least. The general penalties you may face for different types of criminal charges in Texas are:
- Class A Misdemeanor. Includes crimes such as pimping, and carrying a gun without a permit. Crimes of this category are punishable by up to one year in jail, and/or a fine of up to $4,000.
- Class B Misdemeanor. Includes crimes such as possession of up to two ounces of marijuana. Crimes of this category are punishable by up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000.
- Class C Misdemeanor. Includes crimes such as theft of property worth less than $50. Crimes of this category are punishable by a fine of up to $500. There is no jail time for a class C misdemeanor.
What Is the Penalty for a Felony in Texas?
Like misdemeanors, each state has its own system for what qualifies as a felony and what penalties may result from a conviction. In Texas, possible felony charges and penalties include:
- Capital Felony. In Texas, capital felonies are punishable by death or life without parole. Murder is an example of a capital felony. *If the defendant was a juvenile at the time the crime was committed and the prosecutor chooses not to seek the death penalty, then a capital felony is punishable by life imprisonment.
- First Degree Felony. This category includes crimes such as sexual assault against a child, theft of property valued at $200,000 or more, and aggravated sexual assault. A conviction for a first degree felony can result in five to 99 years’ imprisonment, as well as a fine of up to $10,000.
- Second Degree Felony. This category includes crimes such as theft of property valued at $100,000 or more, but less than $200,00, aggravated assault, reckless injury to a child, and causing serious injury to a family member. A conviction for a second degree felony can result in two to 20 years’ imprisonment, and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
- Third Degree Felony. This category includes crimes such as theft of property valued at $20,000 or more, but less than $100,000, drive-by shooting with no injury, and possession of five to 50 pounds of marijuana. A conviction for a third degree felony can result in two to ten years’ imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
State Jail Felony. If lawmakers identify a crime as a felony, but fail to designate it as a particular kind of felony or set a specific sentence, then the felony is considered a
“state jail felony”. State jail felonies are punishable by 180 days to two years in state jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
*A judge must punish a defendant convicted of a state jail felony to a third degree felony term if the defendant used or exhibited a deadly weapon in the commission of the crime, or if the defendant has previously been convicted of a felony.
Need a Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer? We Can Help
If you are facing any level of criminal charge, then a qualified lawyer may be essential to protecting your future. Additionally, if someone you know is currently in police custody, then you may wish to reach out to a lawyer on his or her behalf. To find a Texas criminal defense lawyer in your area, then consult our attorney listings. If you have general question about criminal law or certain charges, then do not hesitate to ask the lawyers.