Felony charges are reserved for only the most severe criminal offenses, such as aggravated battery and criminally negligent homicide. Hefty fines and lengthy prison sentences often accompany felony charges.
Being convicted of a felony can wreak havoc on your life. Most felonies cannot be expunged. A felony conviction could haunt you for the rest of your life, preventing you from furthering your career and completing other essential activities like qualifying for housing or educational opportunities.
At Cofer & Connelly, PLLC, we stand ready to represent our clients against felony charges. Our Austin felony lawyers will work with you to develop a comprehensive legal strategy for your case and help you navigate your defense with confidence.
What Is a Felony?
Crimes in Texas (and other US states) are categorized according to severity. From least severe to most severe, the categories of criminal charges are:
- Class C misdemeanor
- Class B misdemeanor
- Class A misdemeanor
- State jail felony
- Third-degree felony
- Second-degree felony
- First-degree felony
- Capital felony
Class C misdemeanors are the lowest level of criminal offense. Class C misdemeanors are crimes like traffic citations, issuing a bad check for under $20, leaving a child alone inside a vehicle, being intoxicated in public, etc.
Compared to misdemeanors, felonies are the most serious type of criminal offense, and have the most severe sentences. Let's go over the different kinds of felonies in Texas.
State Jail Felony
A state jail felony is a crime punishable by 180 days to 2 years in prison and a fine of $2,000 or less. State jail felonies include:
- Driving while intoxicated (DWI) with a child in the car;
- Criminally negligent homicide;
- Cruelty to animals;
- Holding less than a gram of a controlled or illegal substance;
- Interfering with child custody.
Third-degree felonies have harsher penalties than state jail felonies, and are punishable by 2-10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Common third-degree felonies include:
- A third-offense DWI;
- Tampering with evidence;
- Deadly conduct with a firearm;
- Assault while intoxicated.
Second-degree felonies are punishable by 2-20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Common second-degree felonies include:
- Human trafficking;
- Manslaughter and manslaughter while intoxicated;
- Sexual assault;
- Aggravated assault;
- Indecent contact with a child.
First-degree felonies are punishable by 5-99 years in prison (or more if a judge deems it appropriate), and a fine of up to $10,000. Common first-degree felonies include:
- Sexual assault against a child;
- Aggravated robbery or kidnapping;
- Assaulting a public servant, disabled person, senior citizen, or child;
- Soliciting capital murder.
Capital felonies are punishable by death. Capital felony offenses classify the most heinous crimes an individual can commit, according to the Texas legal system. Common capital felonies include:
- Premeditated capital murder;
What Are the Consequences of a Felony in Texas?
We've already covered the legal penalties for felony offenders in Texas, but felony charges often impact the lives of accused individuals in a variety of ways. Being convicted of a felony can change your life forever, even after serving your prison sentence and paying the associated fine. If you're charged with a felony, here are some things you should know:
- Felonies are expensive. In addition to the legal fines imposed on felony offenders, people accused of a felony must also pay for legal representation. Depending on the kind of charge you're facing, your case could take a significant amount of time to resolve, increasing your legal fees. Many people can't work while facing felony charges either, compounding on the financial impact of the charge.
- Felonies are more restrictive than other criminal offenses. For less serious offenses like misdemeanors, many offenders can get a reduced sentence or probation for good behavior. Felonies are more restrictive. Felony offenders aren't eligible for good behavior sentence reductions, and only certain felony charges can qualify for probation.
- Convicted felons lose various rights while they're serving their sentence. Until you finish serving your sentence, you won't be able to vote. Additionally, you'll need to wait five years after receiving your felony conviction to regain the right to own a firearm in your residence. However, despite Texas laws allowing felons to regain their right to bear arms five years after discharging their sentence, federal law still prohibits felons from owning firearms, so it's technically illegal on the federal level even if it's legal within the state.
- A felony on your record could hurt your career. Many employers shy away from hiring convicted felons. Employers often see criminal records as an indictment of a person's ethics or behavior. Being convicted of a felony could derail your career for years or even decades after your conviction.
- A felony conviction can make day-to-day life harder. In addition to finding employment, a felony conviction makes doing anything that requires a background check difficult. This applies to actions like finding housing. Many landlords are reticent to allow convicted felons to rent or own property.
How Much Is Bail for a Felony?
The amount of bail set for a felony in Texas depends on the type of felony committed and can be anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000, depending on the severity of the crime. However, some felonies, such as capital murder, may not be eligible for bail.
For all of these reasons, if you're facing felony charges, you need a lawyer you can trust by your side. At Cofer & Connelly, PLLC, our lawyers understand Texas criminal law inside and out and will work with you to find the best way to proceed with your case.
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