Felonies

STATE JAIL FELONY

The legal justice system categorizes crimes as a misdemeanor or felony. A felony is much more serious than a misdemeanor because it carries heavier penalties. A misdemeanor could lead to jail time, while a felony may result in a prison sentence. However, a state jail felony is an exception to this rule.

 

State jail felonies have the felony classification but don’t result in a prison sentence. Instead, a state jail felony can only lead to jail time. However, this doesn’t lessen the seriousness of the charge. A state jail felony can uproot your daily life. You could face up to 180 days in jail and be required to pay large fines.

 

If you or someone you know has been charged with a state jail felony, it’s imperative that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.

What is a State Jail Felony?

Texas labels serious crimes as felonies based on the severity of the offense. The law states there are four different degrees for felonies. Each felony degree has its own sentencing ranges and can be enhanced by aggravating factors.

 

However, one type of felony isn’t classified under a degree, but doesn’t qualify as a misdemeanor. This kind of offense is referred to as a state jail felony. A state jail felony carries the felony label but doesn’t result in prison time. Texas Penal Code § 12.13 states that:

 

“An individual adjudged guilty of a state jail felony shall be punished by confined in a state jail for any term of not more than two years or 180 days. In addition to confinement, a state jail felony may be punished by a fine not to exceed $10,000.”

 

Examples of a State Jail Felony

The penalties for a state jail felony can drastically change your life. There’s a possibility that you’ll be court-ordered to spend two years in jail. It’s imperative that you hire a skilled attorney to evaluate your charges. Using their skills, an attorney can create a strong defense plant to defend your rights.

 

Listed below are some examples of a state jail felony.

  • Criminally negligent homicide;
  • Forging a check;
  • Interfering with child custody;
  • Burglarizing a building;
  • Credit card fraud;
  • Animal cruelty;
  • Improper visual recording or photography
  • False report or false alarm;
  • Identity theft;
  • Evading arrest with a vehicle;
  • Theft of items that valued between $1,500 and 20,000; and
  • DWI with a child passenger.

 

Enhancements for a State Jail Felony

Certain factors could reclassify your state jail felony charges. Texas law states that if any of the following factors occurred during the crime, your charges could be reclassified to a third-degree felony.

 

Used or exhibited a deadly weapon during:

  • The commission of the offense;
  • An escape following the commission of the crime;
  • Was a party to the offense and was aware that a deadly weapon was going to be used or exhibited during the crime.

 

You can also be charged with a third-degree felony if you have a prior felony conviction for:

  • Human trafficking;
  • Continuous sexual abuse of a young child or children;
  • Murder;
  • Capital murder;
  • Aggravated kidnapping;
  • Indecency with a child;
  • Sexual assault;
  • Aggravated sexual assault;
  • Injury to a child, disabled person or elderly person;
  • Aggravated robbery;
  • Burglary;
  • Sexual performance by a child; or
  • Compelling prostitution.

 

A third-degree felony is punishable by:

  • Up to 10 years in prison; and
  • A possible fine of up to $10,000.

 

Repeat and Habitual Felony Offenders for a State Jail Felony

 

Texas has its own statute for repeat and habitual offenders with state jail felony charges. Texas Penal Code § 12.425 states that if you’re on charged with a state jail felony and have two prior state jail felony convictions, then you’ll charges will be reclassified to a third-degree felony.

 

A third-degree felony is punishable by:

  • Minimum sentence of 2 years;
  • Maximum sentence of 10 years; and
  • A possible fine of up to $10,000.

 

If you’re charged with a state jail felony and:

  • Have two previous felony convictions other than a state jail felony; and
  • The second prior felony conviction is for an offense that occurred subsequent to the first felony conviction become finalized; then
  • Your charges will be reclassified as a second-degree felony.

 

If you used or presented a firearm during the crime and have a previous felony conviction other than a state jail felony, then your crime will be reclassified as a second-degree felony.

 

A second-degree felony is punishable by:

  • Minimum sentence of 2 years;
  • Maximum sentence of 10 years; and
  • A possible fine of up to $10,000.

 

Can a state felony be reduced to a misdemeanor?

A state felony can be reduced to a Class A misdemeanor. There are 2 ways for this to happen.

The judge can reduce the charges under Texas Penal Code 12.44(a). They can do this if they decide:

    • The offense was not particularly serious,
    • The defendant is not particularly dangerous, and
    • Reducing the charges would be more just.

 

When judges reduce a state jail felony to misdemeanor, though, it is still listed on a felony on the defendant’s criminal history. This triggers far more collateral consequences than if it were actually a misdemeanor.

 

The prosecutor can also ask for a reduced charge. This can happen under Texas Penal Code 12.44(b). If the judge agrees, it would drop the offense to a Class A misdemeanor. The conviction would also be listed as a misdemeanor on the defendant’s criminal background.

If the charge is reduced, the penalties of a conviction diminish. Class A misdemeanors carry:

 

    • Up to 1 year in county jail, or

2 years of probation.

Types of Felonies 

Texas law defines felony offenses as any criminal offense that is punishable by imprisonment of more than one year. Texas Penal Code § 12.04 defines the five different classifications of felony offenses. There degree of felony varies, depending on the severity of the criminal offense, and range from the least serious, State Jail Felony, to the most serious, Capital Felony. The five classifications of felony offenses in Texas are as follows:

  • State Jail Felony
  • Felony of the Third Degree
  • Felony of the Second Degree
  • Felony of the First Degree
  • Capital Felony

Minimum and Maximum Penalties for Felonies in Texas

  • State jail felonies — Texas Penal Code Section 12.35 states that a person guilty of a state jail felony can only be in jail for not more than two years or less than 180 days. In addition to the jail sentence, the person can be fined up to $10,000.
  • Felonies of the third degree — Texas Penal Code Section 12.34 states that a person guilty of a third-degree felony will be imprisoned for a term of 2 to 10 years. In addition to the prison sentence, the person can be fined up to $10,000.
  • Felonies of the second degree — Texas Penal Code Section 12.33 states that a person who is guilty of a second-degree felony will be imprisoned from 2 to 20 years. In addition to the prison term, the person may be charged a fine not to exceed $10,000.
  • Felonies of the first degree — Texas Penal Code Section 12.32 states that a person guilty of a first-degree felony will be punished for a term of 5 to 99 years. In addition to the prison sentence, the person can be fined up to $10,000.
  • Capital felonies — Texas Penal Code Section 12.31 states that a person guilty of a capital felony in which the state seeks the death penalty will be punished by imprisonment for life without parole or death. If the state does not seek the death penalty then the person will only be punished by imprisonment for life without parole.

 

Even though Texas classifies felonies by degrees, a lower level felony is still a serious matter that you should not handle by yourself. It is important to receive competent legal assistance to ensure a good result.

Enhancements for Felony Offenses

Certain types of enhancements explained in Tex. Penal Code §12.42(d) can apply to any felony (other than a state jail felony) when it is shown at the trial that the person has been previously convicted of two felonies, and the second previous felony conviction is for an offense that occurred subsequent to the first previous conviction having become final.

If convicted, the defendant shall be punished by imprisonment in the institutional division for life, or for not more than 99 years or less than 25 years.

The following are some common examples of crimes that may lead to felony charges in the state of Texas.

 


Habitual and Repeat Felony Offenders

In any criminal trial, the alleged offender’s prior history is a big component for sentencing. Repeat or habitual offenders may have enhanced penalties and consequences for their current felony charge. A repeat of habitual felony offender may be subjected to any of the following increased penalties:

  • Individuals charged with a state jail felony offense who have two previous state jail felony convictions will have their charges enhanced to a third-degree felony. The maximum penalty for a third degree felony is ten years in prison, and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Individuals, who have been charged with a third-degree felony and have a previous felony conviction, will face a second-degree felony. This enhancement excludes state jail felonies. A second-degree felony is punishable with a maximum prison sentence of 20 years, and a possible fine of up to $10,000.
  • Individuals, who have been charged with a second-degree felony and have a previous felony conviction, will face a first-degree felony instead. This enhancement excludes state jail felonies. A first-degree felony has a minimum prison sentence of five years and a maximum of 99 years or life imprisonment, and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Individuals, who have been charged with a first-degree felony and have a previous felony conviction, will have their penalties enhanced. The minimum prison sentence will be elevated to 15 years, instead of the standard five years.

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