felonies in texas

The Complete Guide to Felonies in Texas

What’s the worst thing you can imagine? Is it getting arrested? If you take away bodily threats for yourself and loved ones – that’s usually the next highest fear.

Getting arrested is terrifying and the confusing process can hurt your case more than help it. You need a lawyer ASAP, to make sure you don’t put your foot in your own mouth.

Want to learn about felonies in Texas and how the charges work? Read below.

Felonies vs Misdemeanors: What Are They?

Felonies and misdemeanors aren’t as simple as they seem. Each one has three (or four) subcategories within itself.

In general, though, misdemeanors are less life-altering than felonies. You can still get jail time for a misdemeanor, but you’re looking at days, not years.

Felony jail time can be years to life – even the death penalty – though it’s not often used in Texas. (Not for lack of felons on death row, though)

Levels of Misdemeanors

Before we get to the bigger (felony) crimes, let’s take a quick look at the misdemeanor categories. There’s class A, B, and C, which descend in seriousness and level of punishment.

You do not have to tell employers about your misdemeanor, though it may show on your background check.

Class A Misdemeanors (Highest Level)

You can get up to a year of jail time for class a misdemeanor and or probation. There are fines involved and community service requirements.

Some examples are:

  • Resisting arrest
  • Lewdness
  • DWI
  • Petty Theft

Class B Misdemeanors (Mid-Level)

If you’re arrested for a class B misdemeanor, you can expect a few months in prison and some probation. Charges include

  • Harassment
  • Rioting
  • Prostitution
  • Indecent Exposure

Class C Misdemeanors

Finally, we have the lowest level, class C. These are things that can happen to anyone – and they’re the more common types of crime.

  • Disorderly conduct
  • Public intoxication
  • Minors in Possession
  • Illegal gambling (small scale)

Those all fall under class C misdemeanors, which won’t get you jail time in most cases.

Now that you know about the small potatoes, let’s look at felony charges and levels.

Felonies in Texas

Unlike misdemeanors, there are five levels of felonies in Texas. Each gets more serious and addresses more violent or thought-out crimes.

If you’re arrested – always ask what you’re being arrested for. If they don’t specify, ask if it’s a misdemeanor or a felony. You should get a lawyer for each case, but information is power and if you’re being arrested – you need as much power as you can get.

Do not confirm or deny the crime when you’re arrested. Don’t give any information until you’re in the presence of a lawyer – that’s your right under the Miranda laws.

Staying silent at the time of arrest will keep you from saying anything you didn’t mean or that isn’t 100% true in the heat of the moment.

Your body will be pumping both fear and adrenaline through your body, so you can’t necessarily trust yourself to say the right thing.

That said, let’s look at the types, from the highest to the lowest felony levels.

  • Capital felonies (highest)
  • 1st-degree felonies
  • 2nd-degree felonies
  • 3rd-degree felonies
  • State Jail felonies (lowest)

There is no “ideal” level of a felony charge, but if you work with a great lawyer, you may be able to argue it down one level as part of a plea deal.

Capital Felonies (The Highest Level)

If you’re officially charged with a capital felony in Texas in State or Federal Court, you can face the death penalty or life in prison.

Charges include:

  • Espionage
  • Murder with special circumstances(Murder plus another felony; Murder of a Public Servant; Murder of a Child; Murder of an elderly)
  • Treason
  • Genocide
  • Terror-related charges

First Degree Felonies

A first-degree felony is the second highest level of crime and can get you anywhere from 5-99 years of prison.

Some examples include:

  • Aggravated sexual assault of a minor
  • Solicitation of capital murder
  • Aggravated robbery
  • Kidnapping
  • Trafficking minors
  • Arson that causes death
  • Assault of a public servant (like a police officer)

Along with your jail time, you may be looking at up to 10,000 and life long probation if you’re able to serve your whole sentence.

Second Degree Felonies

If you’re charged with a second-degree felony, you’ll still get jail time. It won’t be life, though, you’re looking at about 2 to 20 possible years.

Some 2nd-degree charges are:

  • Arson
  • Sexual assault
  • Robbery
  • Bigamy
  • Bribery
  • Human trafficking
  • Manslaughter
  • Intoxication manslaughter (DUI)
  • Teacher-student sexual relationships

Again, you can get up to a 10,000 dollar fine and probation (but not for life) after you serve your sentence.

Third Degree Felonies

In some states this is the lowest form of a felony, but not in Texas. The lone star state has one level lower, which we’ll explore next.

Third-degree felonies can result in up to 10 years in prison, along with a fine.

Examples include:

  • Indecent exposure to a child
  • Intoxication assault
  • DWI
  • Stalking
  • Tampering with evidence
  • Felon firearm possession
  • Perjury
  • Jumping bail
  • Escape from custody

Texas State Jail Felonies

If you are trying to get your sentence reduced, you may be able to argue a state jail felony down to a misdemeanor. You’ll need a good case (aka, a good lawyer).

Arresting charges for these include:

  • Check forging
  • DWI with children in the car
  • Using a vehicle to evade arrest (car chase)
  • Negligent homicide
  • Cruelty to animals
  • Credit card abuse
  • False reporting
  • Identity theft
  • Child custody interference

If you’re charged with one of these, there’s no getting out for good behavior. You have to serve the entirety of your up-to-180 day sentence.

What Next?

If you’re arrested for felonies in Texas, here’s a quick rundown of what will happen. You’ll be arrested, taken to holding, and processed.

As you’re processed you’ll have the ability to contact your lawyer. After that, you’ll go to sentencing, with your lawyer at your side.

We want to be that lawyer at your side. We specialize in criminal defense cases and offer free consultations. Give us a call, today.