Anyone who has been arrested knows that there is a lot of fear and uncertainty that come with being put in the back of a squad car. Will you serve time in jail or worse? Will you be able to pay your bail? How serious will your charges be? The uncertainty and potential implications of what your charges might be the most unsettling thought.
It goes without saying that advocating for yourself and enlisting a professional to defend you in court is absolutely critical when you face a felony charge. A felony conviction can come with several different penalties. In Texas, the punishment for being convicted of a felony can range from six months in jail and thousands of dollars in fines to the death penalty.
Levels of felonies and punishments
Not everyone knows that there are several levels of felony charges in our state. The severity of the accusation coincides with the level of the felony and the accompanying punishment. Individuals facing felony charges will be defending against the following:
State jail felony
The relative lightest sentenced felony, the state jail felony is punishable by six months to two years in jail and up to $10,000 in fines. Theft of a firearm, burglarizing $1,500 to $20,000 worth of property and resisting arrest are examples of crimes punishable by a state jail felony.
It is important to note that these charges can become third degree felonies for individuals with previous felony convictions or if they used a weapon to carry out the crime.
Third degree felony
The punishments of a third degree felony jump significantly, requiring two to 10 years of incarceration and additional fines of up to $10,000. Possession of five to 50 pounds of marijuana, assault and battery, DUI and arson are all examples of crimes that can result in this charge.
Second degree felony
Anyone convicted of a second degree felony will face two to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000. Seriously injuring family members is often counted as a second degree felony. Aggravated assault, possession of controlled substances (such as cocaine, heroin, meth, oxycodone or ketamine) and child molestation are all also examples.
First degree felony
Some of the most serious accusations can result in convictions of a first degree felony. Charges can include murder, rape and aggravated sexual assault, aggravated assault of a child, elder or disabled person and child trafficking. Punishments range from five to 99 years in prison, plus additional fines up to $10,000.
Capital felonies carry the harshest penalties: life in prison without parole or death by lethal injection. Individuals who have committed a murder of a safety officer, murder coupled with other felonies such as robbery or a sex crime or were responsible for large scale drug trafficking are likely to face a capital felony charge.
A felony charge of any level is not something to take lightly. In addition to the immediate punishments, a criminal record will make the sentencing of all future convictions much harsher.
Prosecuting attorneys regularly try to skirt around defendant’s rights and over-sentence charges. A skilled defense attorney is the best ally you can have in the court room. Trust them to defend you and your rights.