Felonies are the most serious crimes recognized by the State of Texas, punishable by jail time, fines, or community service or a combination of all three. One of the defining characteristics of a felony is that it is usually punishable by more than one year in the county jail. Texas law recognizes many felonies ranging from robbery to murder.
Felonies are treated more seriously under the law and could affect a person’s professional license or immigration status. In addition, having a felony conviction negatively impacts your ability to find a job, attend school, or even find housing. If you have been charged with a felony, former prosecutor and criminal defense attorney Jose Ceja of Ceja Law Firm will use his knowledge of the law to achieve the best possible outcome in your case.
Classification of Felonies
Texas statute recognizes five classes of felonies. From most serious to least serious, they are capital felonies, felonies in the first degree, felonies in the second degree, felonies in the third degree, and state jail felonies.
Capital felony is the most serious and includes the crime of murder. Capital felonies are punishable by death or life in prison. When charged with a capital felony, the prosecution will determine whether it seeks to impose the death penalty upon obtaining a conviction. It is crucial to have representation at this stage, as this decision sets the tone for the remainder of the criminal proceeding.
Felony of the First Degree
A conviction for a felony in the first degree results in the punishment of life in prison, or any term of prison longer than 5 years but less than 99 years. First degree felonies are serious crimes, such as attempted murder, soliciting murder, and aggravated kidnapping. In addition to prison time, punishment may also include a fine of up to $10,000.
Felony of the Second Degree
A conviction for a felony in the second degree results in punishment for a term of no more than 20 years but no less than 2 years in prison. Examples of felonies in the second degree include manslaughter, arson, sexual assault, and robbery. Punishment for a felony in the second degree may also include a fine of up to $10,000.
Felony of the Third Degree
A conviction for a felony in the third degree results in punishment for a term of no more than 10 years but no less than 2 years in prison. Felonies in the third degree include indecent exposure, stalking, possession of a firearm by a felon, and repeat offenses of driving while intoxicated. In addition to jail time, courts may impose a fine of up to $10,000 and community supervision for third degree felony convictions.
State Jail Felony
State jail felonies are a bit of “catch all” felonies in Texas. State jail felonies are crimes that are not described by a degree under the Texas statutes. Thus, any crime that is labeled a felony, without a specific degree (capital, first, second, third) is a state jail felony. State jail felonies are punishable by no more than 2 years but no less than 180 days in prison. Additionally, courts may impose a fine of no more than $10,000 as punishment.
In certain circumstances, such as when deadly weapons are involved in the crime, a state jail felony may be elevated to a felony in the third degree. Similarly, after considering the circumstances of the crime charged as a state jail felony, a court may reduce the punishment applied to that of a Class A misdemeanor.
Consequences of Felonies, in Addition to Jail Time or Fines
Loss of Right to Possess A Firearm
Texas statute allows all residents to obtain a license to carry a handgun. However, a resident may become ineligible to carry a handgun if he or she is convicted of a felony.
Ineligibility for Certain Jobs
A number of employment opportunities in the State of Texas require a clean criminal background. Licensed professions, such as accountants, lawyers, and doctors all generally exclude convicted felons. Other careers such as police officers, firefighters, and employment in the medical field and working with children require background checks for prior felony convictions as well. In many instances, employment opportunities that involve a state license, such as the distribution of alcohol or gambling, require an employee to have a clean criminal record. In addition to these types of employment, many private employers also refuse to hire convicted felons.
Ineligibility for Certain Educational Scholarships
Having a felony conviction on your record also automatically disqualifies you from obtaining several state-funded higher educational scholarships, including prepaid tuition scholarships, Toward Excellence, Access, and Success (TEXAS) grants, and Texas Educational Opportunity grants.
Protect Your Future by Contacting a Houston Criminal Felonies Attorney Today
Being charged with a felony is a serious life event. If you are facing criminal charges, you should consider both the immediate and long-term consequences of being charged with a felony. Short term, you will likely be held in jail until you are able to make bail. If you are denied bail or are unable to make bail, you will be held until your case goes to trial or is resolved by plea or dismissal. Having an experienced attorney on your side to represent you in preliminary evidence hearings and make sure you receive fair bail can help you navigate the early procedural aspects of an arrest.
Long term, there are serious life consequences that extend beyond just prison time. A felony conviction follows you forever and limits your employment, housing, and family opportunities. Having an attorney who knows how to fight back against the criminal justice system can have positive effects on the outcome of your case.
Attorney Jose Ceja of Ceja Law Firm knows the law and criminal procedure and fights tirelessly to help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case. Attorney Ceja has experience as a former prosecutor and will evaluate any charges filed and protect your rights during the criminal process. If you are charged with a felony, contact Ceja Law Firm today.