What Are the Degrees of Felonies in Texas?

Getting charged with a crime in Texas can be a scary experience when you’re suddenly confronted with strange terms and legal language.

As in most states, Texas classifies crimes as either misdemeanors or felonies. Felonies generally involve the most severe crimes as determined by the state legislature.

But under the law, there are levels of seriousness. What are the degrees of felonies in Texas, and what are the potential consequences? The Case J. Darwin Law Office team in San Marcos, Texas, has put together this overview to help you understand the different felony levels and the punishment you may face.

Understanding Types of Felonies in Texas

The Texas legislature classifies felony crimes by their level of seriousness and potential prison sentence and fine. The most serious crimes are capital felonies, while the least serious (though still very serious) are state jail felonies. Here’s a rundown of each class of felony in Texas and the potential penalties you may face if convicted.

Capital Felony in Texas

State law considers only capital murder as a capital felony in Texas. That’s because this type of felony can result in the death penalty, the ultimate potential punishment. Alternatively, a jury may also sentence you to life in prison without parole.

Capital murder involves the act of intentionally killing someone when certain other circumstances exist. For example, killing someone during a kidnapping could merit a capital felony charge, as would a killing deemed to be in a “cold, calculated, and premeditated manner.”

In Texas, the jury that hears your trial also commonly decides whether you will receive the death penalty or life in prison based on evidence from your background that either aggravates the crime or mitigates it.

First-Degree Felonies in Texas

The first-degree felony category in Texas covers several grave crimes, including a murder that does not qualify for a capital murder charge. The list of crimes that could result in a first-degree felony includes the following:

  • Aggravated kidnapping.
  • Aggravated robbery.
  • Arson.
  • Sexual assault.
  • Drug trafficking.
  • Money laundering.
  • Organized crime.

Under Texas law, a jury may also decide on your sentencing. Texas law declares that a first-degree felony conviction carries a penalty of anywhere from five to 99 years in prison. The exact length of your sentence will depend on the underlying circumstances involved in the crime. The judge can also sentence you to life in prison. In addition to prison time, they may fine you up to $10,000 and order you to pay restitution to the victims of the offense.

Second-Degree Felonies in Texas

Under Texas law, many second-degree felonies still involve crimes against persons, including certain property-related crimes. Here are some examples of second-degree felonies that might require the assistance of the experienced criminal defense team at the Case J. Darwin Law Office:

  • Aggravated assault.
  • Burglary of a home or building.
  • Theft of property valued between $2,000 and $100,000.
  • Possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver.
  • Money laundering.
  • Organized crime.

Second-degree felony convictions carry penalties from two to 20 years in prison. The exact length depends on the precise circumstances of the crime; for instance, a theft case that’s closer to $100,000 is likely to result in a stiffer prison sentence. A judge decides on the punishment based on arguments from your attorney and the prosecutor in the case. In addition, the judge could order you to pay a fine of up to $10,000 and restitution to your victims.

The team at Case J. Darwin Law Office can help develop a proper defense and work with you to present mitigating circumstances that could lead to a lesser sentence. Call our offices today for an immediate consultation.

Third-Degree Felonies in Texas

Crimes classified as third-degree felonies generally don’t involve offenses against another person, but they are serious, nonetheless. Examples of third-degree felonies in Texas include:

  • Forgery.
  • Fraud.
  • Driving while intoxicated (depending on circumstances).
  • Possession of a controlled substance.
  • Theft of property valued between $1,500 and $2,000.
  • Evading arrest.

Judges have the authority to issue a sentence between two and 10 years in prison for a conviction on a third-degree felony charge. You may also have to pay a maximum fine of $10,000 and restitution to your victims.

State Jail Felonies in Texas

A level just above misdemeanors, state jail felonies could include a range of offenses involving property or other illegal behavior. These crimes could bring a state jail felony charge:

  • Possession of a controlled substance.
  • Theft of property valued at less than $2,000.
  • Credit card abuse.
  • Burglary of a building.
  • Evading arrest.

State jail felonies carry sentences between six months and two years in prison, with the potential for a fine of up to $10,000 and restitution. A judge could also decide to sentence you to probation if this is your first offense. Judges consider the totality of the facts in the case.

Even though the penalties are at the lowest level, state jail felonies carry additional serious consequences. You still have to register as a convicted felon, and you may also lose your right to vote and to own a firearm. State jail felonies also can qualify for one day off for each day of good behavior to bring your parole date closer.

Trust Case J. Darwin With Your Defense

Fluent in Spanish and servicing numerous counties in central Texas, Case J. Darwin is an experienced criminal defense attorney who can defend you against the most serious felony charges. Case is a former prosecutor and Briefing Attorney for the Honorable Terry Jennings of the Houston First District Court of Appeals.

Case handles all felony and misdemeanor charges, ranging from capital murder to class C misdemeanors, appeals, expunctions, and bar admission administrative proceedings. He handles such charges on a case-specific basis and is also experienced in immigration law, guiding clients through deportation, visas, and other proceedings.

Case graduated from the University of Texas with Higher Honors and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He subsequently graduated from the Texas Tech University School of Law, summa cum laude and as a member of the Texas Tech Law Review and Order of the Coif. He started his career at an Am Law 100 firm. If you require a criminal defense lawyer in the San Marcos, Texas, area, don’t hesitate to call the office or contact us online today for an immediate consultation.


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