Texas Penal Code: Punishment Classifications
If you or a loved one has been accused of a criminal offense, one of the questions which will undoubtedly be on your mind is what penalties could result from a conviction. Each state categorizes offenses differently, so it is important to be aware of the provisions in your state.
With a population of over 25 million, Texas is the second most populated state in the U.S. as well as the second largest state by area. In fact, if Texas was a country, if would be the 40th largest in the world. As of the 2010 U.S. census, approximately 70% of the population is white, 37% is Hispanic or Latino, and 11% if African American. Three cities in Texas rank in the top ten most populous cities in the entire country: Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio. Austin serves as the capital of Texas and is home of the Texas State Capital building. The crime rate in Texas is separated into violent crimes and property crimes. Per year, there are over 110,000 violent crimes and 950,000 property crimes.
According to the Texas Penal Code §3.12.01-3.12.51 (2011), the law divides criminal offenses into two main categories: misdemeanors and felonies. Although this is overall the most common way of categorizing crimes, every state does not operate under this system. Misdemeanors are less serious than felonies. Crimes such as assault, petty theft, DUI, and domestic violence can be charged as a misdemeanor, although if they are serious cases they can increase to a felony.
Misdemeanors are then further broken down into Class A, Class B, and Class C misdemeanors, with Class C being the least serious. A conviction of a Class C misdemeanor does not result in any legal disability or disadvantage. Felony charges are brought against more serious crimes, such as arson, robbery, battery, murder, and more. Felonies are divided into five different categories: state jail felonies, third, second, and first degree felonies, and capital felonies.
Depending on which type of offense you are charged with, there will be maximum penalties in place which you could be subject to. A Class A misdemeanor could result in up to one year in jail as well as a $4,000 fine. A Class B misdemeanor could result in up to a $2,000 fine and up to 180 days in jail. A fine of up to $500 could be brought against an individual who was convicted of a Class C misdemeanor.
As felony charges are more serious, so are the penalties which can result from a conviction. Capital felony offenses are reserved for crimes which require the death sentence or life imprisonment without parole. Followed by this is a first degree felony. Those who are convicted could be facing imprisonment for a minimum of 5 years and a maximum of 99 years. Not only this, but the convicted individual could be fined up to $10,000. A conviction of a second degree felony could result in 2 years to 20 years in prison as well as a $10,000 fine.
Those convicted of a third degree felony could be sent to prison for up to 10 years with a minimum sentence of 2 years. Again, the fine for a third degree felony could be up to $10,000. The least serious felony conviction is a state jail felony. This could result in imprisonment in state jail for up to 2 years and a minimum of 180 days. A state jail felony could increase to a third degree felony if a deadly weapon was used during the crime or the individual had already been convicted of a felony.
What happens when the individual is convicted of one of these offenses for a second, third, or fourth time? Known as repeat or habitual offenders, the penalties can increase following a multiple conviction. It is also important to remember that, depending on the character and background of the individual, the charges could be reduced from a state jail felony to a Class A misdemeanor. If you have any more questions regarding criminal cases in Texas, you should contact a legal professional from your local area.