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Understanding Your Charges

Denton County Criminal Defense Attorney | Free Consultation | Phone, Evening and Weekend Appointments Available

What Am I Facing?

In Texas, criminal charges fall into two different categories: misdemeanors and felonies. While both should be taken seriously, misdemeanors are considered the lesser of the two. The punishments for felonies and misdemeanors vary based on the severity of the crime. Both can have serious consequences on your life and future so it’s imperative that you understand the differences in crimes, degrees of offenses and range of punishments. Understanding your criminal charges and securing an experienced attorney at the outset can mean the difference between a charge and a conviction.

Misdemeanors

Misdemeanors have three different classifications in Texas: Class A, Class B, and Class C. The seriousness of the misdemeanor determines which class it falls in and what consequences accompany it. Class C is held as the least serious and includes crimes such as public intoxication, disorderly conduct, assault, and petty theft. The most common Class C charge is a traffic offense resulting in a ticket.

Class B is the next class of misdemeanors and incorporates charges like first-offense DWI, vandalism, indecent exposure, and harassment. Class A is the final and most serious of the classes involving crimes such as second-offense DWI, assault with bodily injury, possession of 2-4 ounces of marijuana, and unlawful carrying of a weapon. Each of these classes has different consequences:

Class A

  • A fine of up to $4,000
  • Up to 1 year in jail

Class B

  • A fine up to $2,000
  • Up to 180 days in jail

Class C

  • A fine up to $500
  • No jail time

 

Felonies

Texas felonies are delineated by degrees based on the seriousness of the offense. The most serious and harshly punished is a capital felony. A capital felony involves crime such as multiple murders, murder of a public safety officer, and murder of a child less than six years of age. First degree felonies are second and include charges of aggravated robbery, murder, and burglary of habitation with the intent to commit a felony. Second degree felonies are also serious with criminal charges like aggravated assault, manslaughter, and robbery. Third degree felonies involve third-offense DWIs, aggravated perjury, and intoxication assault; and lastly, there’s state jail felonies, the least serious of all, which include forgery of a check, possession of less than one gram of a controlled substance, and burglary of a building.

Felonies have much higher punishments than misdemeanors and are as follows:

Capital Felony

  • Death by lethal injection
  • Life imprisonment

First Degree Felony

  • Lifelong imprisonment
  • Imprisonment from 5-99 years with a fine up to $10,000
  • Possibility of probation

Second Degree Felony

  • Imprisonment of 2-20 years with a fine up to $10,000
  • Possibility of probation

Third Degree Felony

  • Imprisonment of 2-10 years with a fine up to $10,000
  • Possibility of probation

State Jail Felony

  • Imprisonment of 6 months – 2 years in state jail with a fine up to $10,000
  • Possibility of probation

If you have been charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, it is imperative you seek the counsel of a veteran defense attorney immediately.

 

Deferred adjudication, Probation, and Jail

Depending on the offense you’re charged with, you could seek alternative penalties to jail time such as deferred adjudication or “regular” probation. In Texas, these are known as community supervision. They range from 2 years for misdemeanors to 10 years for felonies.

Deferred Adjudication

Deferred adjudication is a type of probation and a viable sentencing alternative for certain charges and most often for first-time offenders. With deferred adjudication an individual is not technically convicted, so you are not specifically found guilty of the offense. Basically, the judge just determines that there is sufficient evidence for a guilty case to be made. The accused must enter a plea of “non contest” or “guilty” to obtain a deferred adjudication

Deferred adjudication is a plea bargain arrangement with the court where sentencing is deferred based on the outcome of the probationary period. If you are granted and successfully complete your deferred adjudication probation and any other requirements set forth by the court, then the charges are dismissed. Unlike regular probation, if you fail to meet the conditions of your deferred adjudication, you will face the full range of penalties or statutory maximum associated with the original crime.

Probation

Unlike deferred adjudication, typical probation usually results in a conviction. The maximum jail or prison term is set at the time of the plea. This means if you fail to meet the conditions set forth by the court, you are thrown in jail for the already pre-determined amount of time, rather than face the statutory maximum as you do in deferred adjudication.

Jail

Depending on the seriousness of your offense, you can be placed in county jail, state jail or prison. While felony convictions can typically land you in state jail or prison, jail time can also be a condition of probation or deferred adjudication. A judge could order a defendant spend up to 30 days in county jail for a misdemeanor or up to 180 days for a felony.

Whatever crime you’ve been charged with, John C. Rentz can help you get the least possible sentencing. As an expert attorney, he will evaluate your charges and unique circumstances, creating a defense to aggressively protect your rights and obtain the result you need.

Call John C. Rentz today for your initial consultation. We serve clients in Denton County and the surrounding area.