Felonies and Misdemeanors

People often ask what is the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor.  The short answer is the seriousness of the offense.  But usually someone facing a criminal charge really wants to know what that means for their case.  The Texas Penal Code classifies offenses into categories and assigns ordinary punishment ranges for each category, as follows, for a person adjudged guilty:

Misdemeanor Crimes

Class A misdemeanor:
  • a fine not to exceed $4,000; confinement in jail not to exceed one year; or both such fine and confinement
Class B misdemeanor:
  • a fine not to exceed $2,000; confinement in jail not to exceed 180 days; or both such fine and confinement.
Class C misdemeanor:
  • punishable by fine only not to exceed $500

Felony Crimes

Capital Felony:
  • If the state seeks the death penalty shall be punished by imprisonment for life without parole or by death.   If the state does not seek the death penalty shall be imprisoned for life without parole.
First Degree Felony:
  • punishable by imprisonment for life or any term from 5- 99 years; in addition may be punished by a fine not to exceed $10,000.
Second Degree Felony:
  • punishable by imprisonment for any term from 2- 20 years;  in addition may be punished by a fine not to exceed $10,000.
Third Degree Felony:
  • punishable by imprisonment for any term from 2- 10 years;  in addition may be punished by a fine not to exceed $10,000.
State Jail Felony:
  • punishable by confinement in a state jail for any term from 180 days – 2 years; in addition may be punished by a fine not to exceed $10,000.   Additionally, a State Jail Felony can be punishable as a Third Degree Felony under certain circumstances.

These are just the ordinary categories and punishment ranges- there are several exceptions to these general rules, for example, penalties for repeat offenders.  There is also the possibility of having a felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor level offense and/or the lowering within categories, i.e., a Class A misdemeanor reduced to a Class B misdemeanor, etc.

Review the link to the statute for more details…

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About Lori Elaine Laird, J.D.

My practice has a sound reputation in the Clear Lake area with a detail-oriented, aggressive presence in surrounding county courtrooms.
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