What To Know About Misdemeanor Vs Felony
The criminal justice system across the United States divides crimes into several different categories depending on the severity of the crime. A crime can either be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony. Within these categories, there may be different levels or classes.
If you’re found guilty of a crime, the exact punishment depends on the classification of the offense. Legal procedures also differ between felonies and misdemeanors. If you’re unsure of the difference between these criminal offenses, a competent Fort Bend criminal defense attorney can help you know the nature of these charges. Call us at Leeds Law Firm to schedule a consultation!
This article will give you an overview of the difference between misdemeanor and felony.
- What is a Misdemeanor?
- What are the Levels of Misdemeanor Offenses?
- What is a Felony?
- What are the Degrees of Felony Crimes?
- The Role of a Fort Bend Criminal Defense Attorney
What is a Misdemeanor?
Misdemeanors are taken seriously and aggressively prosecuted in Texas. While particular laws vary by state, misdemeanors generally cover non-violent crimes. It involves illegal actions that did not cause physical harm to the alleged victim. It is a criminal offense that carries a potential jail term of less than one year.
With a misdemeanor, you will appear before the judge, but you won’t face a jury. Furthermore, persons convicted of a misdemeanor in Texas don’t lose civil rights. However, keep in mind that even though a misdemeanor might not seem that serious, it typically stays on your criminal record unless you have it expunged.
What are the Levels of Misdemeanor Offenses?
According to Texas statutes, misdemeanors are categorized into classes: Class A, B, and C. The prison sentence ranges from a few days to several months, depending on which class the offense falls into. A reliable Fort Bend criminal defense attorney can help you understand how misdemeanors are sorted into different classes based on severity.
Class A Misdemeanor
This is the most serious level of misdemeanor. It is punishable with a fine of up to $4,000, one year in county jail, and/or up to two years of probation. Some examples of Class A misdemeanor charges include:
- DWI (second offense)
- Perjury (lying under oath in court)
- Violating a protective order
- Public lewdness
- Possessing 2 to 4 ounces of marijuana
- Resisting arrest
- Jumping bail for a misdemeanor offense
- Carrying a weapon unlawfully
Class B Misdemeanor
A Class B Misdemeanor conviction can mean up to 180 days in jail, up to two years of probation, and/or a fine of up to $2,000. Some examples of Class B misdemeanor charges include:
- DWI (first offense)
- Indecent exposure
- Possessing 2 ounces or less of marijuana
- Presenting a fraudulent degree
- Intentionally lying to police
Class C Misdemeanor
Class C misdemeanors are the least serious of all misdemeanor charges. There is no jail time involved in this level of offense. However, they can include a fine of no more than $500, and the judge may order community service. Some examples of Class C misdemeanor charges include:
- Public intoxication
- Traffic citations
- Petty theft or shoplifting of items valued at less than $50
- Driving under the influence as a minor
- Possessing alcohol or tobacco as a minor
- Possessing drug paraphernalia
- Bail jumping
- Disorderly conduct
What is a Felony?
Felony crimes are typically more severe than misdemeanors. In the Texas criminal justice system, a felony is considered the highest level of sentencing. Crimes in this category involve illegal and violent actions that cause physical injury, financial harm, or death to another person. When you’re accused of a felony, it is crucial to seek legal advice from a qualified criminal defense attorney in Fort Bend, TX to help you protect your rights and avoid harsh penalties.
Depending on the actual offense, felonies often carry a lengthy prison sentence and could result in the death penalty. In most cases, the punishment for a felony includes:
- 180 days in jail to life in prison,
- A fine of up to $10,000, and
- Community supervision.
What are the Degrees of Felony Crimes?
Felonies are classified according to degrees. If convicted of the crime, the felony degree is the basis for the penalties you may face. A knowledgeable Fort Bend criminal defense lawyer can help you understand how felony crimes are classified in Texas.
State Jail Felony
State jail felony is considered the least serious felony. A state jail felony conviction carries a maximum prison sentence of two years, a fine of up to $10,000, and community supervision. The real punishment is having a felony listed on your criminal background record, as this could do much more harm than spending time in jail. The following offenses are classified under this degree:
- DWI (driving while intoxicated) with a child passenger
- Burglarizing a building
- Credit card abuse
- Unauthorized use of a vehicle
- Forging a check
If convicted of a third-degree felony, a person may face up to 10 years in prison and a fine not exceeding $10,000. There is an option for probation, including strict rules for violators to obey. Some examples of third-degree felony offenses include:
- DWI (Third Offense)
- Indecent exposure to a child
Penalties include 2 to 20 years of jail time and up to $10,000 in fines. Some second-degree felonies can be upgraded to first-degree, depending on the circumstances of the case. The following offenses fall under this degree:
- Possession of Marijuana (50-20,000 pounds)
- Human Trafficking
A first-degree felony conviction carries either a life sentence or up to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If you don’t have a criminal history, you could be sentenced to probation. Some examples of First-Degree Felonies include:
- Aggravated kidnapping
- Aggravated robbery
A capital felony is the most serious criminal offense in Texas. If convicted of a capital felony, you may be sentenced to life in jail without the possibility of parole or face the death penalty. Here are some examples of capital felonies:
- Murder with special circumstances
- Pre-meditated capital murder
The Role of a Criminal Defense Attorney
Criminal charges are very serious, and a conviction can majorly impact your life. You may risk losing your freedom, reputation, money, job opportunities, and more. The charges for crimes and their punishments can vary widely, depending on the nature of the crime, the history of the defendant, and other circumstances of the case.
Whether you are facing felony or misdemeanor charges, consulting with our experienced Fort Bend criminal defense attorney from Leeds Law Firm can make all the difference in protecting your freedom. Our criminal defense law firm has decades of experience and knowledge in criminal law matters across Texas. We understand how challenging various legal matters can be, which is why we have dedicated ourselves to helping clients who are facing criminal charges.
We also provide attorney bail bondsmen services in Fort Bend County and Harris County. Aside from criminal defense, we can also help with the following cases:
We can help you learn more about the difference between misdemeanor and felony crimes in Texas and how our firm can help fight those charges. We are here to represent you and obtain the best possible outcome for your case. Contact us now and schedule an initial consultation to know more about your legal options.