Texas Criminal Law: An Overview of Felonies and Misdemeanors

At Wolf, Stallings & Mayo PLLC, we understand the importance of a comprehensive understanding of Texas criminal law. Whether you face criminal charges or simply want to be informed about the legal landscape, it is essential to be familiar with the distinctions between felonies and misdemeanors. This blog post will provide an overview of these two categories of crimes under Texas law.

Felonies: Serious Crimes with Severe Consequences

Felonies are the most severe crimes in Texas and carry significant penalties. Classifying a crime as a felony is based on the potential punishment rather than the specific nature of the offense. Texas classifies felonies into five categories:

  • Capital Felonies: Capital felonies are the most severe crimes punishable by death or life imprisonment without parole. These offenses include murder, treason, and certain types of kidnapping.
  • First-Degree Felonies: First-degree felonies are punishable by imprisonment ranging from five to ninety-nine years or life imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000. Examples of first-degree felonies include aggravated robbery, sexual assault, and arson.
  • Second-Degree Felonies: Second-degree felonies carry a prison sentence of two to twenty years and a fine of up to $10,000. Examples of second-degree felonies include manslaughter, burglary, and aggravated assault.
  • Third-Degree Felonies: Third-degree felonies are punishable by imprisonment for two to ten years and a fine of up to $10,000. Crimes such as possession of a controlled substance, DWI (third offense), and certain types of theft fall into this category.
  • State Jail Felonies: State jail felonies are less severe than other felonies but still carry significant penalties. Convictions for state jail felonies result in imprisonment for 180 days to two years and a fine of up to $10,000. Crimes such as credit card abuse, drug possession, and property theft valued between $2,500 and $30,000 are considered state jail felonies.

Misdemeanors: Lesser Crimes with Lesser Consequences

Misdemeanors are less serious offenses compared to felonies and are divided into three categories in Texas:

  • Class A Misdemeanors: Class A misdemeanors carry a maximum penalty of up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $4,000. Class A misdemeanors include assault causing bodily injury, DWI (first offense), and property theft valued between $750 and $2,500.
  • Class B Misdemeanors: Class B misdemeanors are punishable by up to 180 days in county jail and a fine of up to $2,000. Offenses such as criminal trespass, prostitution, and possession of small amounts of marijuana are classified as class B misdemeanors.
  • Class C Misdemeanors: Class C misdemeanors are Texas's least serious criminal offenses. They typically involve minor infractions or violations, such as public intoxication, disorderly conduct, or speeding. Convictions for class C misdemeanors carry a maximum fine of $500 but no jail time.

Understanding the distinctions between felonies and misdemeanors is crucial when navigating the Texas criminal justice system. The severity of the crime and the potential consequences differ significantly between these two categories. If you face criminal charges or need legal advice, our experienced attorneys at Wolf, Stallings & Mayo PLLC are here to help. We deeply understand Texas criminal law and can provide you with the guidance and representation you need during these challenging times.

Contact Wolf, Stallings & Mayo PLLC today if you or a loved one are facing felony or misdemeanor charges in Texas!

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