Misdemeanor Vs. Felony in Texas: What You Need to Know
If you or a loved one have been charged with a crime, you may wonder what types of penalties may come along with a conviction. That’s why you should understand the difference between felony vs. misdemeanor charges in Texas.
These two classifications address the seriousness of the crime and what penalties can be meted out. In Texas, both misdemeanors and felonies are broken down into several additional categories as well, with differing consequences. Here’s a look at the difference between felony vs. misdemeanor charges and penalties in the state.
What Is a Misdemeanor?
A misdemeanor is a serious offense, but the infraction is not as weighty as a felony. It includes crimes that involve loss of or damage to property, but generally not cases where someone was harmed. It also encompasses low-level thefts and possession of a small amount of pot. Other examples include:
Texas has three levels of misdemeanor — Class A, Class B and Class C. Class A carries the most severe penalties. Both Class A and B fall under the jurisdiction of county courts at law or constitutional county courts, while a justice of the peace court has jurisdiction over a Class C misdemeanor.
What Are the Penalties for a Misdemeanor?
The severity and consequences of a crime determine the punishment. For a Class A misdemeanor, the maximum is a one-year prison sentence and $4,000 fine, while Class B carries a max punishment of a $2,000 fine and 180 days in prison. Class C goes up to a $500 fine.
What Is a Felony?
A felony is the most serious type of crime you can be charged with. It nearly always includes the theft of property or bodily harm to someone. The higher the value of the items that are stolen, the more serious the felony. Texas includes five classifications of felonies. Here they are, along with a couple examples of each:
- Capital felony: Capital murder
- First-degree felony: Aggravated sexual assault; property theft of $200,000 or more
- Second-degree felony: Reckless injury to a minor; aggravated assault
- Third-degree felony: Theft of property valued between $20,000 and $100,000; drive-by shooting that does not result in injury
- State jail felony: Theft of property valued $1,500 to $20,000; abuse of credit card
What Are the Penalties for Felonies?
All felony cases are tried in district court. Much like misdemeanors, the punishment depends on the severity of the crime. Someone convicted of aggravated assault, a second-degree felony, can get two to 20 years in jail and a $100,000 fine. Someone convicted of capital murder may receive the death penalty.
Still Have Questions About Misdemeanors Vs. Felonies in Texas?
We can help answer them. Morales & Sparks, P.L.L.C., has experience dealing with a range of felony and misdemeanor charges. We know it can be confusing for clients and their families dealing with the criminal justice system. We encourage you to reach out to us to schedule a consultation to get your questions addressed to your satisfaction.