What Is a 12.44 (A) or 12.44 (B)? | State Jail Felonies In Texas

If you have been charged with a state jail felony in Texas, you may have been told to ask for a “12.44,” which refers to Section 12.44 of the Texas Penal Code and allows state jail felonies to be punished as misdemeanors. Here’s a look at the law and the difference between a 12.44 (a) and a 12.44 (b) in Texas.


What is a state jail felony?

State JailIn 1993, the Texas legislature created a new category of offenses: state jail felonies. State jail felony offenses are generally low level property or drug crimes, which are punishable by confinement in a state jail facility for a period of six months to two years.

State jails are low-risk facilities that are operated at lower costs than state prisons, which house inmates convicted of first, second or third degree felonies. Unlike time served in county jail or prison, a state jail sentence must be served day-for-day. An inmate cannot earn good conduct time or parole in a state jail facility, which is why defendants charged with a state jail felony often seek a reduction in punishment through 12.44(a) or 12.44 (b.)

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What is a 12.44(a)?

Under Section 12.44(a) of the Texas Penal Code, a state jail felony can be punished as a Class A misdemeanor if a judge believes its in the best interest of justice after considering the gravity and circumstances of the offense and the history, character and rehabilitative needs of the defendant. A 12.44(a) does not require the prosecution’s consent. The reduction does result in a felony conviction, but instead of doing six months to two years in a state jail facility, the defendant will instead face up to a year in county jail (where good time credit may be offered) or two years of community supervision (probation).

This section allows a judge to punish a state jail felony as a misdemeanor. Under this statute, if a person is convicted of a state jail felony, the judge has the discretion to reduce the sentence to confinement in county jail for up to one year instead of sentencing them to state jail. This reduction can be beneficial to defendants for several reasons:

  • Conditions and terms of incarceration: County jails often are seen as less harsh compared to state jail facilities.
  • Proximity to home: Being in a county jail might keep the inmate closer to family and friends.
  • Criminal record implications: While it doesn’t change the felony conviction, the actual punishment might be lighter and less disruptive to one’s life post-incarceration.

State Jail Felonies | "Can I get a 12.44?"

What is a 12.44(b)?

While 12.44(b) has the same two possible sentences as 12.44(a), it does not result in a felony conviction. A conviction under 12.44(b) is a misdemeanor conviction, which makes it very appealing to defendants. An offense that is prosecuted under 12.44(b) also cannot later be used to enhance other felony offenses. But unlike 12.44(a), an offense can only be prosecuted under 12.44(b) with the consent of the prosecution.

This section permits the court to reduce a state jail felony charge to a misdemeanor with the prosecutor’s consent.

What’s the difference between Section 12.44(a) and 12.44(b) Texas?

Feature Section 12.44(a) Section 12.44(b)
Type of Reduction Sentence reduction Charge and sentence reduction
Original Charge State jail felony State jail felony
Reduced To Misdemeanor-level punishment Misdemeanor
Sentence Up to 1 year in county jail Up to 1 year in county jail
Prosecutor’s Consent Not required Required
Impact on Criminal Record Remains a felony conviction Results in a misdemeanor conviction
Incarceration Incarceration in county jail Incarceration in county jail
Benefits Avoids State Jail confinement Avoids State Jail confinement, lesser impact on criminal record

Both  12.44(a) and 12.44(b) mean misdemeanor punishment for a state jail felony, but (a) will result in a felony conviction, while (b) will result in a misdemeanor conviction. This chart breaks down a couple of other key differences:

What is a 12.44 reduction in Texas?

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Call an Attorney to Discuss State Jail Felonies in Fort Worth

Because a 12.44 allows a state jail felony in Fort Worth to be punished as a misdemeanor, anyone charged with an eligible offense must reach out to an experienced lawyer for help. Our team has decades of experience and a proven track record. Call today for a free consultation.

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