What is a 3G Offense in Texas?
A 3G offense is a special category of felony offenses in Texas that requires a person serve at least half of their prison sentence before becoming eligible for parole. Additionally, a judge may not give a defendant straight probation for a 3G offense without the recommendation of a jury after a trial.
List of 3G Offenses in Texas
3G offenses are considered to be the most serious or violent, which is why they are punished more harshly. 3G offenses were formerly listed in Texas Code of Criminal Procedure in Article 42.12 Section 3g (which is why they are called “3G”), but they are now codified under Texas Code of Criminal Procedure 42A.054 and include:
- Capital murder
- Indecency with a child
- Aggravated kidnapping
- Aggravated sexual assault
- Aggravated robbery
- Drug cases where a child is used in the commission of the offense, or the offense took place within 1,000 feet of a school or on a school bus.
- Sexual assault
- Injury to a child, elderly individual, or disabled individual, if the offense is punishable as a felony of the first degree
- Sexual performance by a child
- Possesssion/promotion of child pornography
- Criminal solicitation cases that are punishable as a felony of the first degree
- Compelling prostitution
- Trafficking of persons
- Burglary of a Habitation
- Any felony where a deadly weapon is used or exhibited during the commission or flight from a crime.
Prosecutors can add a “deadly weapon” enhancement to any felony offense, making it a 3G offense in Texas. If the deadly weapon is found to be true or pled true, then the 3G restrictions outlined above apply.
A deadly weapon is anything that is used or exhibited during the commission of an offense or during the flight from an offense that in its use or intended use is capable of causing death or serious bodily injury. A common misconception is that if a death occurred, then the deadly weapon allegation must be true. That is not true, and we have had juries return verdicts where a death occurred without finding the deadly weapon allegation to be true.
Is an Attempted Offense a 3G Offense?
A conviction for an attempted offense is not a conviction for purposes of determining if the person is eligible for community supervision. Parfait v. State, 120 S.W.ed 348 (Tex. Crim. App. 2003)(attempted sexual assault is not a 3g offense in Texas.)
Limitations for Probation Eligibility
The Code of Criminal Procedure lists a number of crimes where a judge cannot give probation. An individual charged with 3G offense in Texas generally cannot receive straight probation from a judge, with the exception of some cases where a jury recommends probation after a jury trial. Deferred adjudication, however, may be given by a judge if the court finds it is warranted under the circumstances.
If a person is convicted of a non-3G offense, they are eligible to be considered for release on parole when their actual time served plus good conduct equals one-fourth (¼) of the sentence imposed or 15 years, whichever is less.
By contrast, a person who is convicted of a 3G offense in Texas and sent to prison must serve at least half (½) of their sentence or 30 years, whichever is less. If the convicted person receives a sentence of less than four years, they must still serve a minimum of two years before they are eligible for release on parole.
In most first, second, and third-degree felony cases, an inmate is parole eligible after serving a quarter of the sentence. Certain serious offenses known as 3g offenses in Texas require an inmate to serve half the sentence before becoming parole eligible. These offenses are typically violent or sexually motivated offenses such as aggravated kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault or any offense where a deadly weapon is involved. An offender who received a life sentence after 1993 must serve at least 40 years behind bars before becoming eligible for parole.
It is important to remember that parole is not automatic, but rather, the inmate is eligible to apply for parole after serving a certain period of time. Some offenders, including those who sentenced to death or life in prison without parole, are never eligible to be released on parole.
What to Do if You are Charged with a 3G Offense in Texas
If you or a loved one has been charged with a 3G offense in Texas, it is important to work with an experienced attorney whom you trust. Discuss your options with a lawyer so that you can make an informed decision without surprise consequences.