In Texas, felonies are the most severe level of a criminal offense. The State of Texas punishes felony crimes with incarceration in state jail (for lesser offenses) or state prison (for the majority of felonies). Some felony convictions also come with very lengthy probation periods that can extend up to a decade in length and fines of up to $10,000 per offense. The type, severity, and aggravating circumstances associated with each felony allegation can dictate the consequences of a felony conviction. Speaking with an experienced Texas criminal defense lawyer can help you understand the charges against you, the applicable laws, the penalties you may be up against, and how they can affect the rest of your life.
Under the Texas Penal Code, Title 3, Chapter 12, Subchapter A, the range of Texas felony punishments includes:
- Capital Felony: Punishable by up to life in prison or the death penalty. Examples include murder but due to the status of the person murdered (e.g., the victim was a peace officer) or the course and conduct of the offense (e.g., if the murderer intentionally commits murder in the course of attempting to commit a robbery otherwise known as felony murder).
- First Degree Felony: Punishable by a prison sentence of five years to life in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. Examples include murder, sexual assault against a child, and aggravated robbery.
- Second Degree Felony: Punishable by a prison sentence of two to 20 years and up to a $10,000 fine. Examples include burglary of a habitation, manslaughter, and robbery.
- Third Degree Felony: Punishable by a prison sentence of two to 10 years and up to a $10,000 fine. Examples include assault on a family member by choking, promoting prostitution (or “pimping’), and assault on a family member by a second-time offender.
- State Jail Felony: This is basically a Fourth Degree Felony by a different name and is the lowest level of felony in Texas. It is punishable by a sentence of 180 days to two years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. Examples include low-level drug offenses, theft of a firearm, and a prostitution third offender.
Long Term Life Effects of a Texas Felony Conviction
The most damaging results of being charged and convicted of a felony crime in Texas are often not the penal consequences (the prison sentences and fines), but the long-term effects the conviction will have on your life. Felony convictions also have serious non-penal consequences, including but not limited to:
- Immigration deportation or removal proceedings from the United States if you are not a citizen
- Problems getting a job as many employers automatically reject applicants with a felony conviction or state upfront that anyone who applies must have a clean criminal record
- Problems renting an apartment or finding a place to live
- Problems being a volunteer at a large organization
- Loss of the right to vote under the Texas Election Code, Title 2, Chapter 11
- Loss of the ability to hold public office
- Difficulty obtaining or maintaining a professional license
- The right to serve on a jury
- Issues with college applications or being accepted into an institution of higher learning
- Child custody issues
- Potentially affecting your ability to adopt a child
- Losing driving privileges / Texas driver’s license
- More serious penalties for future crimes
Felony Conviction Expunctions
An expunction is complete destruction of all records related to the crime. In fact, once obtained, you are permitted to deny that you were ever arrested or charged with anything. The only method by which a convicted felon can get a felony charge removed from their criminal record is to file for an expunction under Texas law. Not every felony conviction qualifies for an expunction, however.
To be eligible for an expunction, your felony charge must be dismissed, acquitted by a jury, or “no billed” by a grand jury. Then, after one of those two things happens, there is a waiting period equal to the statute of limitations for the felony crime before filing an expunction petition. We have all made mistakes in our lives and our legal team believes in second chances. For many people, exploring expungement in Texas is a way to get a second chance at getting their lives back on track.
Texas Felony Defense Lawyers
A felony conviction in Texas can affect your life in a lot of negative ways, which is why you need to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you minimize the long-term damage. If you are charged with a felony, the best way to avoid a conviction is to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney. A Texas criminal defense attorney with J.D. Silva & Associates will be able to tell you what to expect in court and how to best protect your rights, so contact us today.