A felony in Texas is any charge that can send you to prison or state jail for more than a year. Felonies are more serious than misdemeanors, which are punishable by a fine or some time in a local jail. Felony cases must be presented to a grand jury, which is a group of citizens who determine whether there is enough evidence, or probable cause, for the case to move forward. To learn more about this process and how felony cases get to court, contact a Fort Worth felony lawyer at our firm or listen to the audio below.
What are the Felony Punishment Ranges in Texas?
In Texas, punishment for felonies can vary widely – ranging from two years in a state jail facility to up life in prison or even the death penalty. The lowest-level felony is a state jail felony, which is punishable by up to two years in a state jail facility. The highest level felony – other than a capital murder which can be punished by the death penalty – is a first-degree felony. First-degree felonies are punishable by five years to 99 years or life in prison.
What is a State Jail Felony?
A state jail felony is an offense that is punishable by a minimum of 180 days to a maximum of two years in the state jail system. It is also punishable by up to a $10,000 fine. The state jail system was created due overcrowding in the Texas prison system. It is meant to be an intermediate facility for individuals charged with felonies. Despite this, the state jail system is the only felony incarceration in Texas where parole does not apply. In other words, a person who is sent to state jail is going to serve their sentence day-for-day with the exception of diligent participation credit which may shave some time off of the state jail felony sentence. A knowledgeable Fort Worth felony lawyer could further explain state jail felonies to anyone facing charges.
12.44 and State Jail Felonies
One of the most common questions our criminal defense attorneys get is whether an individual charged with a state jail felony may be punished pursuant to 12.44. No one has a right to a “12.44” – which refers to Penal Code Section 12.44 – but there are occasions when an individual is allowed to serve misdemeanor time and receive a state jail felony conviction. Basically, a 12.44 reduces state jail felony punishment to misdemeanor punishment.
Unlike time served in county jails or the Texas Department of Corrections, a state jail sentence must be served day for day. An inmate cannot earn good time credit to be released early. A person convicted for a state jail felony who has two prior state jail felonies will be punished under a third-degree felony range of 2 to 10 years in prison.
State Jail Felony Repeat Offender (State Jail with two Non-State Jail Sequential Priors)
A person convicted of a state jail felony who has two prior non-state jail sentences that were sequential will be punished as a second-degree felony, which is 2 to 20 years in prison. The use of a deadly weapon can further enhance state jail felony punishment ranges.
What is a Third Degree Felony?
A third degree felony is an offense that is punishable 2 to 10 years in prison. A fine up to $10,000 may also be imposed. A third-degree felony will be punished as a second-degree felony if the accused has previously been sent to prison. A third degree felony will have a 25 to 99 year punishment range if the accused has been to prison on two previous occasions.
What is a Second Degree Felony?
A second-degree felony is an offense that is punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison. A fine up to $10,000 fine may also be imposed. A second degree felony will be punished as a first degree felony, which is 5 to 99 years in prison, if the accused has previously been sent to prison. A second degree felony will have a 25 to 99 year punishment range if the accused has been to prison on two previous occasions.
What is a First Degree Felony?
A first degree felony is an offense that is punishable by 5 to 99 years or life in prison. A fine up to $10,000 may also be added. A first degree felony will be punished by 15 to 99 years in prison if the accused has previously been sent to prison. A first degree felony will have a 25 to 99 year punishment range if the accused has been to prison on two previous occasions.
How Much Time Does a Person have to Do before Becoming Eligible for Parole?
Individuals who are sentenced to a term of imprisonment for a felony may be eligible for parole in quarter time, if they are not charged with a 3G offense and there is not a deadly weapon finding. On the other hand, if there is a deadly weapon finding or if the offense is a 3G offense, parole is not an option until at least half of the sentence has been served. Eligibility for parole is not a guarantee that parole will be granted.
Get the Services of a Fort Worth Felony Attorney
Varghese Summersett PLLC has the experience and dedication to handle any level of criminal offense, including cases such as Felony DWI, Felony Drug Possession, and Felony Assault. If your freedom or your loved one’s freedom is at stake because they are charged with a felony criminal offense, we are just a phone call away from standing between you and the state of Texas. We will be there from the beginning and to the full and final resolution of the case. If you have been accused of a felony, you can count on Varghese Summersett for experienced legal representation and personal service.
No matter what charge you are facing, you likely have a lot of questions. We can help. Call today to speak with a Fort Worth felony lawyer.