The state of Texas has categories for offenses, and each has guidelines and a range of penalties that accompany it. Having these categories enables the prosecution and the judge to make decisions when making charges and handing down sentences. For someone facing criminal charges, knowing the categories of offenses and their potential punishments can be beneficial when planning a defense.
The Texas Attorney General explains that all crimes fall into either a felony or misdemeanor category. Felonies are more serious than misdemeanors and carry tougher penalties. For example, felonies result in prison time whereas misdemeanors may only result in jail time. The state runs prisons, and local agencies run jails.
There are five types of felony crimes. The most severe level is a capital felony. A person facing a capital felony could get the death penalty or life in prison. The next level is a first-degree felony, which could result in life in prison or a prison term ranging from five years to 99 years. It also carries the potential for a fine up to $10,000.
Next are a second-degree felony and a third-degree felony. Both have a potential for a fine of up to $10,000. A second-degree felony has a potential for prison time of two to 20 years, and the penalties for a third-degree felony could include prison time up to 10 years.
The final felony is a state jail felony, which deviates from the typical prison time for felony counts. This type of felony may result in jail time ranging from 180 days to two years and a fine up to $10,000.
The highest level of misdemeanor is Class A, which can result in a jail term of up to one year and a fine up to $4,000. The next level is Class B, which carries up to 180 days in jail and a fine up to $2,000. The final misdemeanor is a Class C, which may carry a fine up to $500, but no jail time.