As the more serious of the two types, a felony in Texas is a crime punishable by at least one year of jail time and up to the death penalty. Felonies include sex crimes, acts of violence, certain gun offenses, and more significant thefts. Since felonies cover a wide variety of offenses, felony charges are broken down into subgroups based on the severity, each with an associated set of fines and penalties.
If you are facing felony charges in Texas, you will want an experienced felony defense attorney representing you. Call a Houston criminal lawyer at the Law Offices of Ned Barnett today at (713) 222-6767 to schedule a free consultation.
Texas Felony Charges
Some common examples of felonies in Texas include:
- Drug crimes
- Sex crimes
- Aggravated assault
- Human trafficking
- Indecent exposure
- Disorderly conduct
- Multiple DWIs
Types of Texas Felonies
Again, based on the facts involved, the type of felony you are charged with will fall into a specific category. In Texas, felonies are divided into:
Reserved for crimes like murder and other serious offenses, capital felonies may result in the following:
- The death penalty
- Life imprisonment without the possibility of parole
1st Degree Felony
These are the second most severe felonies in Texas. Examples of first-degree felonies include sexual assault and aggravated robbery. Penalties could mean:
- Up to life imprisonment
- Most convictions result in at least five years in prison
- Fines up to $10,000
2nd Degree Felony
These are lesser felony crimes, such as burglary, aggravated robbery, and human trafficking. However, second-degree felonies can become first-degree offenses based on aggravating factors. Penalties include:
- Anywhere between 2 and 20 years imprisonment
- Fines up to $10,000
3rd Degree Felony
Another lesser felony offense can be applied in cases involving stalking, deadly conduct with a firearm, and possessing a firearm as a felon. Based on the facts, a third-degree offense can rise to a second-degree felony, but penalties usually include:
- Between 2 and 10 years imprisonment
- Fines up to $10,000
State Jail Felony
While still more severe than a misdemeanor, state jail felonies are the least serious felony in Texas. State jail felonies cover crimes like animal cruelty, marijuana possession, low-level theft, and criminally negligent homicide. Penalties include:
- Between 180 days and two years in jail
- Fines up to $10,000
How Felony Convictions Hurt You
Having a felony on your record will affect you in more ways than you think. Even if you avoid time behind bars as part of a guilty plea, everything from finding a job to participating in civic duties could be limited, if not taken away forever.
- Voting – While incarcerated, you will be prohibited from voting in state or national elections. However, according to Texas Election Code 11.002, your voting rights can be restored once your felony sentence has been fully discharged.
- Employment – Those convicted of felony offenses are more likely to be passed over for job opportunities post-release. Potential employers might run a background check, and you will be required to answer their questions truthfully.
- Holding Elected Office – Anyone previously convicted of a felony is disqualified from holding a public office position. You may be able to hold a position in elected state office after receiving a full pardon. However, no requirement prohibits convicted felons from holding an elected federal office position.
- Education – If convicted of a felony, you will have limited eligibility for federal student loans, which may be used to cover the costs of your education and housing. Additionally, you may be denied entry to college or universities.
- Firearms – Anyone convicted of a felony in Texas loses their right to own firearms and cannot be issued a gun license.
- Housing – Obtaining affordable housing with a felony conviction is very difficult. Texas landlords can refuse rental applications and deny opportunities to individuals convicted of felony offenses.
- Parenting – Those convicted of domestic violence and alcohol-related crimes cannot adopt children. Plus, a felony conviction could limit your child custody and visitation rights.
- Immigration Status– Foreign nationals face deportation and denial of green card application if convicted of misdemeanor or felony offenses. Even being accused of such crimes could cause serious immigration troubles.
- Right to Serve on a Jury – Anyone convicted of a felony and incarcerated for more than one year is disqualified from serving on a jury. You can restore your right to serve on a jury by obtaining a full pardon.
Is Jail Required After a Felony Conviction?
While felonies are routinely punished with incarceration, time behind bars is not always mandatory. Based on factors like your record, cooperation, and other circumstances, the court may be willing to consider alternatives to jail, such as:
- House arrest
- Felony probation
- Diversion programs
But keep in mind you might still have to plead guilty to some of the charges to be considered for lesser penalties. It’s best to discuss all your options with a felony defense lawyer.
Ways to Help Yourself if You’re Charged with a Felony
If you are charged with a felony, everything you do will be under a microscope. In some cases, you might think you are acting in a way that might help you, but you are doing more harm than good.
- Ask About Program or Plea Eligibility– If you cannot beat the charges, talk to your lawyer about taking a plea deal or enrolling in a diversion program. These can save you the time and cost of a long, drawn-out trial and lessen your punishments.
- Don’t Contact the Victim or Their Families – Maybe you have been unjustly accused or think the whole situation is a misunderstanding. Even if true, contacting the victim and/or their families can come off as intimidation, resulting in new charges plus making you look more guilty of the original ones.
- Don’t Give Statements to The Police – When you are arrested, say nothing to the cops and ask for an attorney.
Can Felonies Be Expunged?
It is extremely rare to have a felony removed from your record, especially in Texas. However, there are instances where it does happen, especially if it is later proven that you were not guilty of the charges.
Should I Hire an Attorney?
Absolutely. The felony crimes sections of Texas laws are very strict, and the court systems are designed to get guilty convictions. If you try to manage this world on your own, even if you are not guilty, an experienced prosecutor can still convince the court otherwise. That’s why you need an experienced felony lawyer.
Call a Houston Felony Lawyer Today
Do not try to fight a felony charge alone or accept an unwarranted conviction. Instead, hire a skilled felony defense lawyer.
Attorney Ned Barnett has helped many people facing felonies in and around Harris County, Texas. To speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney, contact The Law Offices of Ned Barnett at (713) 222-6767.