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Have you been charged with a crime in Texas? If so, you potentially face harsh penalties including incarceration, fines, community service, and probation. Depending on the severity of the crime with which you are charged, you can face other penalties as well. In Texas, there are misdemeanor offenses and felony offenses. What, however, are the differences between these two central categories of crimes? We will discuss the answer to this question in more detail here.

What Is the Difference Between a Misdemeanor and a Felony?

A misdemeanor is considered to be a less severe criminal charge than a felony offense. The potential punishments for a misdemeanor offense are, therefore, correspondingly less severe as well. Should incarceration be ordered at sentencing for a misdemeanor offense, it will likely be served in a county jail facility as opposed to a prison. Most misdemeanor sentences, however, will involve court-ordered community service, as well as fines and probation, instead of jail time.

Texas law provides for three levels of misdemeanor charges. The categories are differentiated by the severity of the crimes they include and all categories carry their own set of potential punishments. The three categories of misdemeanor offenses in Texas are:

Class A: This is the most serious category of misdemeanor charges. Punishments for a Class A misdemeanor conviction can include up to one year in county jail and a fine upwards of $4,000.

Class B: Punishments for a Class B misdemeanor conviction can include up to 180 days in jail and a fine upwards of $2,000.

Class C: Punishments for a Class C misdemeanor conviction involve a statutory maximum fine of $500. Usually, this type of misdemeanor carries no jail time penalty.

Felonies include the most serious crimes of all. Texas law also divides felonies up into categories depending on the severity of the offense. The felony categories are:

  • Capitol felony: This is an offense specifically for Capitol Murder. Someone convicted of a capitol felony faces life in prison or the death penalty.
  • First degree: Punishments for a first degree felony can include a prison sentence between 5 years and up to 99 years or life. Conviction can also mean a fine not to exceed $10,000 and the possibility of probation if the person has no prior criminal convictions.
  • Second degree: Punishments for a second degree felony can include a prison sentence between 2 years and up to 20 years or life. There may also be a fine not to exceed $10,000.
  • Third degree: Punishments for a third degree felony can include a prison sentence between 2 years and up to 10 years as well as a fine not to exceed $10,000.
  • State jail felony: This is the least serious class of felony offenses and include non-violent crimes. Potential penalties for a state jail felony include a minimum of 180 days and up to 2 years in the State Jail Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and a fine not to exceed $10,000.

Criminal Defense Attorneys

A criminal conviction can have devastating consequences. Furthermore, a felony conviction can result in loss of civil liberties that can be difficult or impossible to restore. A felony or misdemeanor conviction can also impact your job prospects and ability to secure housing. The dedicated criminal defense team at Navarrete & Schwartz will fight for you to help avoid a criminal charge turning into a criminal conviction. We are proud to serve the residence of Midland, Texas. Contact us today.