What is a Habitual Offender under Texas Criminal Law?

Board Certified Criminal Defense Attorney Anna Summersett explains the Habitual Offender enhancement for criminal cases in Texas and the effect on the punishment range.

A habitual offender, similar to a repeat offender, does require that somebody has a previous felony conviction for which they served penitentiary time for. Again, the requirement is that penitentiary time actually be served. However, different from a repeat offender, a habitual offender is required to have at least two prior convictions for which they served separate penitentiary time. For example, if you were convicted of two third-degree felony offenses at the same time and you were sentenced to seven years penitentiary and you served those at the same time, you’d be a repeat offender because that was one penitentiary trip.

If, however, you were convicted of a third-degree felony, went to the penitentiary, got out on parole, committed another felony offense, was convicted of that offense, then a second penitentiary trip, you will then be what’s called a habitual offender in the state of Texas. That increased your minimum punishment regardless of whether you are a third-degree, second-degree, or first-degree case to a minimum of 25 years.

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