Nearly all criminal charges outlined in the Texas Penal Code can be categorized into one of two types of offense: misdemeanors and felonies. Generally, misdemeanors represent lesser crimes and carry lighter penalties, while felonies are far more serious and are more severely punished. Nevertheless, both levels of criminal offense are to be taken seriously, as either conviction can follow you for the rest of your life.
Many criminal offenses, such as assault, theft, or drug crimes, can be prosecuted as either misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the severity of the offense and other circumstances of the case. There are three classes of misdemeanors, each of which carries lighter penalties than a felony. Misdemeanors are generally reserved for crimes that do not involve serious injury to another party.
In contrast, felonies are generally reserved for more serious or repeated offenses. There are five degrees of felonies, each of which carries farther-reaching and more severe penalties than a misdemeanor charge. For example, those who are convicted of a felony additionally may lose their rights to vote in elections or carry a firearm.
In order of severity from least to most serious, Texas criminal offenses are delineated as follows:
If you’ve been charged with a criminal offense, whether for a minor misdemeanor or a more serious felony, it is vital that you partner with a qualified and skilled criminal defense attorney. Your lawyer will be able to review the details of your case and work hard to get your charges reduced or, in some cases, dismissed whenever possible. Experienced attorneys, like those at the Law Office of Joseph Ruiz, PLLC, are even able to fight to have a felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor in some cases.
A: In Texas, getting three misdemeanors within a ten-year window will upgrade an offense to a felony. Particularly, repeat offenses of the same crime will subsequently increase the penalties with each offense. As a result, you could be facing a felony charge for an offense that would otherwise be a misdemeanor if you’ve had multiple convictions already. Most commonly, misdemeanors will become felonies in cases involving multiple DWIs.
A: Texas law divides misdemeanor offenses into three categories:
A: In Texas, a felony can be reduced to a misdemeanor if the state prosecuting attorney agrees to do so. This is known as a felony reduction. If the prosecuting attorney makes the request, the court may allow the prosecution of a state jail felony as a Class A misdemeanor. In this case, the actual charge will be reduced, not just the punishment. In other cases, the court may charge for a state jail felony but only impose misdemeanor penalties.
A: In Texas, a Class A misdemeanor is the most serious charge under a felony. They tend to involve possession of a certain amount of drugs or some kind of violence. A state jail felony is the next level of offense and is the first to constitute a felony charge. The difference between the two is significant. In almost every case, being charged with a felony loses you certain rights, such as the ability to vote or carry a firearm.
Whether you’ve been charged with a serious felony or a minor misdemeanor, get in touch with a qualified Texas attorney today to discuss your case and establish a defense plan. In many cases, your lawyer can help you get your charges reduced or even dismissed. Contact a member of our team at the Law Office of Joseph Ruiz, PLLC, today for a free consultation.