Felony Crimes

Felony crimes are the most serious level of criminal offenses in Texas. It is important to understand the differences and the extent of penalties for felony crimes.

What is a Felony?

In the State of Texas, there are two main distinctions for criminal offenses, Felony and Misdemeanor. Felony crimes are considered the more serious sentence in criminal law. Examples of felonies include Aggravated Assault, Capital Murder, Arson, etc. Felonies are the most serious distinction of crime in Texas law, so as a result, carry a serious and harsh sentence.

How many types of Felonies are there?

According to Texas Penal Code Title 3 Chapter 12 subchapter A, below are the felony distinctions and their punishments:

State Jail Felony

(a)  An individual adjudged guilty of a state jail felony shall be punished by confinement in a state jail for any term of not more than two years or less than 180 days.

(b)  In addition to confinement, an individual adjudged guilty of a state jail felony may be punished by a fine not to exceed $10,000.

(c)  An individual adjudged guilty of a state jail felony shall be punished for a third degree felony if it is shown on the trial of the offense that:

  • a deadly weapon as defined by Section 1.07 was used or exhibited during the commission of the offense or during immediate flight following the commission of the offense, and that the individual used or exhibited the deadly weapon or was a party to the offense and knew that a deadly weapon would be used or exhibited; or
  • the individual has previously been convicted of any felony.

Third Degree Felony

a) An individual adjudged guilty of a felony of the third degree shall be punished by imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for any term of not more than 10 years or less than two years.

(b)  In addition to imprisonment, an individual adjudged guilty of a felony of the third degree may be punished by a fine not to exceed $10,000.

Second Degree Felony

(a)  An individual adjudged guilty of a felony of the second degree shall be punished by imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for any term of not more than 20 years or less than two years.

(b)  In addition to imprisonment, an individual adjudged guilty of a felony of the second degree may be punished by a fine not to exceed $10,000.

First Degree Felony

(a)  An individual adjudged guilty of a felony of the first degree shall be punished by imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for life or for any term of not more than 99 years or less than five years.

(b)  In addition to imprisonment, an individual adjudged guilty of a felony of the first degree may be punished by a fine not to exceed $10,000.

Capital Felony

(a)  An individual adjudged guilty of a capital felony in a case in which the state seeks the death penalty shall be punished by imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for life without parole or by death. An individual adjudged guilty of a capital felony in a case in which the state does not seek the death penalty shall be punished by imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for:

  • life, if the individual committed the offense when younger than 18 years of age.
  • life without parole, if the individual committed the offense when 18 years of age or older.

(b)  In a capital felony trial in which the state seeks the death penalty, prospective jurors shall be informed that a sentence of life imprisonment without parole or death is mandatory on conviction of a capital felony. In a capital felony trial in which the state does not seek the death penalty, prospective jurors shall be informed that the state is not seeking the death penalty and that:

  • a sentence of life imprisonment is mandatory on conviction of the capital felony, if the individual committed the offense when younger than 18 years of age AND 18 years or older.

What is the difference between First Degree and Capital Felony?

The distinction of a capital felony is only applied to the death sentence. All capital felonies will result in life in prison without parole, or death. This is the sole distinction between capital felony and first degree felony charge. An example of this is the difference between first degree and capital murder. Capital Murder is only considered as such if the crime warrants the death penalty or life in prison, otherwise first degree offenders face first degree penalties.

Is it possible to expunge a felony from my record?

In Texas, it is possible to expunge felonies under specific conditions based on your trial. These conditions include:

  • you were acquitted of the crime for which you were charged
  • you were convicted but subsequently found to be innocent
  • you were convicted but subsequently pardoned
  • you were formally charged by indictment or information and the case against you was later dismissed, and the statute of limitations has expired, or
  • you were arrested but not formally charged and you satisfy the waiting period described below.

In order to grant expungement, those wishing to remove a felony crime from their record must wait three years to file for such action. Learn more about expungements here.

To speak to Gary Tabakman about your unique felony situation, call 713-331-9457 today to schedule a free initial consultation and case evaluation.