As an attorney who also handles criminal cases, one of the common questions asked is: “What is the punishment range for the crime I have been charged with?” Therefore, I thought it was a good idea to write a blog for people to refer to for more easily accessible information of what a person accused of a crime is potentially facing:
Misdemeanors fall into three main categories, Class C, B and A. I will start with the lowest punishable category and move up.
Class C misdemeanors:
Class C misdemeanors are mostly traffic violations but sometime also include crimes such as
-Theft of less than $50 value
-Selling alcohol to a minor or minor having possession of alcohol or tobacco.
Class C misdemeanors are generally not punishable by jail and have a fine up to $500.00. However, there are other potential consequences for which you should be wary of such as suspension of your driver’s license. I will discuss the consequences more detailed in another follow up blog in the future, stay tuned.
Class B misdemeanors:
Class B misdemeanors are non-traffic violations and are punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine up to $2,000.00. You may also face 2 to 3 years of probation or community supervision. Some examples of class B misdemeanors include:
-First time DWI
-Possession of marijuana less than 2 ounces
-Lying to the police
Class A misdemeanors:
Class A misdemeanors are non-traffic violations and are punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine up to $4,000.00. You may also face 2 to 3 years of probation or community supervision. Some examples of class A misdemeanors include:
-Assault with injury or against a family member
-Possession of marijuana 2 to 4 ounces
-Evading or resisting arrest
-Violation of a protective order
-Interference with 911 call
-Burglary of motor vehicle
Felonies fall into 5 main categories, state jail felony, third-degree felony, second-degree felony, first-degree felony, and capital felony. Like misdemeanors, I will start with the lowest punishable felony category and move up.
State jail felony:
A state jail felony is sometimes considered as a class of its own. It is a hybrid between a misdemeanor and a felony that does not fall in the 3 degree levels of first, second, and third, or capital felony. A state jail felony is punishable by a minimum of 180 days in jail and a maximum of 2 years in jail, or probation. The maximum fine for a state jail felony is $2,000.00. Unlike misdemeanors, if you get jail time for a state jail felony, you would serve your time in state jail instead of county jail. Sometimes state jail felonies can be lowered to a misdemeanor under section 12.44 of the Texas Penal Code. I will discuss 12.44 reduction in another blog. Also, unlike county jail, serving time in state jail for a state jail felony does not offer “credit time”, the credit time you get for each day spent in jail. For example, getting 2 days counted towards your sentence for every 1 day spent in jail. Every county does their “credit time” differently.
Third degree felony:
Third-degree felonies are punishable by 2 to 10 years in jail and a fine up to $10,000.00. You may also face probation or community supervision. Some examples of third-degree felonies include:
-Third time DWI
-Assault while intoxicated
-Felon in possession of firearm
-Deadly conduct with firearm
-Indecent exposure to a child
Second degree felony:
Second-degree felonies are punishable by 2 to 20 years in jail and a fine up to $10,000.00. You may also face probation or community supervision. Some examples of second-degree felonies include:
-Aggravated assault or sexual assault
-Evading arrest involving death of another person
-Bigamy (be careful with this one)
First degree felony:
First-degree felonies are punishable by 5 to 99 years in jail and a fine up to $10,000.00. You may also face probation or community supervision. Some examples of first-degree felonies include:
-Attempted capital murder
-Aggravated assault of public servant
-Burglary with intent to commit a felony therein
-Causing bodily injury to a child, an elder, or disabled person
-Arson resulting in death
Capital murder is the most serious and understandably produces the harshest sentence. The punishment for capital murder can be life in prison or death. The list is limited for capital murder, but it includes crimes such as:
-Treason (something we don’t see often)
-Murder with special circumstances such as multiple death involved, or in combination with another crime, murder of a police officer, or repeated murder offender.
Your punishment may be lower:
Remember these are punishment ranges for each crime and the maximum punishable time. Often, if you are facing criminal charges you do not get the max sentence, or you may even avoid jail and fines; a good attorney can help you with that.
If you are looking for a criminal defense attorney and want to know what you may be potentially facing as a punishment, what strategy to take in fighting your allegations and avoid the punishment or reduce it to the lowest possible punishment, or if you simply want to call to discuss your legal issue, call or email me, Amir Tavakkoli, Houston attorney from the A.T. Law Firm. Our phone number is 832-800-5590 and the email is firstname.lastname@example.org. We also travel to different counties including but not limited to Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Ford Bend County, Waller County, and Brazoria. Contact the A.T. Law Firmby calling (832) 800-5590 for a free consultation.