Felony Vs. Misdemeanor: Severity of Crime and Punishments

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime in Texas, you may wonder what type of offense they committed and the possible penalties associated with the conviction. Note that a felony is considered a more serious crime than misdemeanors and carries high penalties including long-term jail sentencing and hefty fines. If you are facing felony charges, it’s advisable to hire an experienced Houston criminal attorney for legal representation.

What’s a felony?

Note that felony is the most serious category of crime you can be charged with. It includes theft of property or any form of bodily harm to another person. A felony conviction will have a substantial impact on your future. These charges can result in 10 years of community supervision or even life imprisonment.

Besides, potential employers are more likely to deny job opportunities to someone with a felony conviction. The state laws are also very restrictive regarding your ability to acquire state license for specific occupations if you are a felon. In Texas, the law sets five classifications of felonies.

  • Capital felony: These crimes are punishable by life imprisonment with parole or even death. An example of a capital felony is murder.
  • First-degree felony: According to Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 12.32, a conviction for a first-degree felony carries five to 99 years’ imprisonment or life imprisonment.
  • Second-degree felony: The Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 12.33 makes it clear that these felony charges are punishable by 2 to 20 years’ imprisonment and up to $10,000 fine.
  • Third-degree felony: The Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 12.34 states that any third-degree felony is punishable by up to ten years in prison and a maximum of $10,000 fine.
  • State jail felony: Any state jail felony charge carries 180 days to two years in a state jail. Fine of up to $10,000 may apply too.

What’s a misdemeanor?

This is a serious offense, but it’s less weighty than a felony. The infraction includes crimes that involve damage or loss of property but not cases that involve bodily harm. Misdemeanors also include low-level thefts and illegal possession of small amounts of marijuana. Other examples of misdemeanors include DWI, stalking (no bodily harm), cable theft, and going to a dogfight.

Misdemeanors are classified as follows;

  • Class A misdemeanor: Under the Texas law, Class A misdemeanors are considered most serious misdemeanor charges and are punishable by up to one year in jail and a maximum of $4000 fine.
  • Class B misdemeanor: These charges are punishable by up to 180 days in jail and up to $2000 fine.
  • Class C misdemeanor: These are less serious charges and are punishable by only fine (up to $500).

Most Texas misdemeanor and felony laws carry serious repercussions that can sometimes be a trap for the unwary. If you’re convicted, you might end up spending a long time in jail or prison, on probation, and more. If you were convicted of a felony, your criminal record would always hang around you unless you’re eligible for criminal record expungement.

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