Across the U.S., you’ll find crimes classified in three ways: infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies. Infractions are typically minor crimes that come with citations and small fines. Misdemeanors go on your criminal record and are punishable with jail time and larger fines.
Felonies are the most severe crimes. Most often, they don’t come with fines, but they do send the convicted to prison. Felonies often come with a loss of certain rights, and they are very rarely expunged from a criminal record.
Levels of Criminal Offense
Most states tier their criminal charges. Some will use a word like “level,” while others may call them “classes.” Put simply, their misdemeanors and felonies have steps that rise in severity. The bottom level, or class, will be the least serious offense, and the top level will be the most severe.
Texas’s misdemeanors come in three “Classes,” A, B, and C. Class C is the lowest, and it doesn’t come with jail time. Convicted of a Class C, you must pay a fine of $500. Class B is punishable by 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine, and Class A, the highest, puts you in jail for one year with a $4,000 fine.
In Texas, felonies come not in classes, but “degrees.”
State Jail Felonies
The lowest form of Texas felony isn’t given a “degree.” It doesn’t even come with prison time. While still a felony on record, its penalties are more akin to a misdemeanor. Convicted of this state jail felony, you are facing between 180 days to 2 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
Examples of state jail felonies:
- Animal cruelty
- Check forgery
- Resisting arrest by driving away
- Illegal drug possession (less than one gram)
- Falsely reporting a crime
Penalties become more serious, but the convicted still avoid prison time. Third Degree Texas felonies can put someone in jail for 2 to 10 years. There also may be fines of up to $10,000.
Examples of third-degree felonies:
- Evidence tampering
- Escape from custody when charged with a felony
- A third (or more) DWI
- A third offense of ignoring a protective order
- Lying under oath
Now the punishments start to ramp up. Jail time is no longer an option. Guilty verdicts land people in prison from 2 to 20 years. Fines can still be levied, also up to $10,000.
Examples of second-degree felonies:
- Polygamy (multiple marriage)
- Human trafficking
- A second offense of stalking
- Using the internet to solicit sex from someone under 14
The biggest of the big, first degree felonies in Texas begin with 5 years in prison. These are the crimes you see in documentaries, and they can end with life in prison. Once again, fines of up to $10,000 can be placed on the convicted.
Examples of first-degree felonies:
- Human trafficking of someone under 14
- Burning down a home
- Aggravated sexual assault (which is meant to inflict harm)
- Intentional, serious injury of a disabled person
If you’ve been accused of a felonious act, contact The Law Office of Shane Phelps, P.C. today. We can give you a free consultation, at no risk to you. Call (979) 773-7028 or reach out to us online.