The severity of a charge someone accused of committing a crime will receive is generally based on the nature of the crime and how serious it was. Legally speaking, felonies are the most severe charges a person can receive and are reserved for the most serious crimes. Felony charges are broken down into 5 categories in Texas, and each one comes with its own consequences. The penalties aren’t just legal; anyone convicted of a felony crime will experience consequences to many aspects of their life.
Felony Degrees in Texas
A person can be charged with both state felonies and federal felonies depending on the circumstances pertaining to the crime they’re being accused of. Every state handles felony charges differently, and Texas currently has 5 different felony degrees. The felony charges a person can receive in Texas include:
- State Jail Felonies: A state jail felony is a crime with punishments of at least 180 days in jail and a fine of no more than $2,000. A state jail felony must be served in full and is not eligible for early release. Crimes that are identified as felonies but don’t fit into other felony classifications are often charged as state jail felonies. Some examples of crimes that fit this description include theft of a firearm and theft of livestock up to $30,000 in value.
- Third Degree Felonies: Third degree felonies are crimes that involve prison sentences between 2 and 10 years long as well as a fine of as much as $10,000. An example of a crime that could result in a third-degree felony charge would be deadly conduct with a firearm. Anyone who is facing a third-degree felony but has already been convicted to another felony will see their charge increased to a second-degree felony.
- Second Degree Felonies: Second degree felony crimes are more serious than third degree felonies and can result in a prison sentence between 2 and 20 years long as well as a maximum fine of $10,000. Examples of second-degree felony crimes in Texas include human trafficking, manslaughter, robbery, bigamy, and bribery. Anyone with a second-degree felony charge who received a felony conviction in the past will have their charge increased to a first-degree felony.
- First Degree Felonies: The state of Texas considers first degree felonies to be some of the most serious crimes. A first-degree felony conviction could result in life in prison or up to 99 years in prison. Aggravated sexual assault is an example of this type of crime. The punishments for these crimes are severe, however, the death penalty cannot be imposed.
- Capital Felonies: Capital felonies are the most serious crimes a person can be charged with in Texas. Anyone convicted of such a crime may face life in prison or the death penalty. Treason, genocide, premeditated murder, and espionage are examples of crimes that result in capital felony charges in Texas.
Long-Term Effects of Felony Convictions
Someone with a felony conviction on their record will see many changes in their life due to the serious nature of the crime in question. A felony can impact someone’s life even if they are not convicted. The best way to avoid such consequences is to try to have the charge lowered to a misdemeanor if possible. Experienced and talented legal counsel can help make that happen.
Here are some different ways a felony charge can affect someone’s life.
Limitations on Housing
Many landlords require background checks before allowing someone to rent from them. Many landlords decide not to rent to people with felony charges on their records. Certain felony convictions make it difficult for people to obtain government benefits that can help them obtain housing. For example, some people may not be eligible for food stamps due to their conviction. Certain sex crime convictions can leave someone ineligible for public housing benefits.
Loss of Custody
A felony conviction can have an impact on a person’s parental rights depending on the nature of the crime. For example, providing a child with a firearm, public indecency, and drug abuse can lead to loss of custody. Such convictions can also prevent someone from ever becoming a foster parent or adopting.
Certain crimes can lead to someone having their driving privileges revoked. For example, if someone is convicted of manslaughter with a vehicle or of certain drug-related crimes, they may have their license taken away. Some people are required to complete extensive courses to get their privileges back. Many repeat offenders are never able to drive legally again.
No Higher Education
Colleges, both public and private, reserve the right to ask to perform background checks on their applicants. Some schools may deny someone with felony charges on their report. Certain people may have difficulty attending college even if they’re accepted because many sex crimes and drug crimes disqualify people from receiving financial aid.
A felony conviction in Texas can result in that person’s visa being cancelled, their green cards rejected or delayed, and even deportation. Once their sentence is complete, they could face removal proceedings intended to result in their deportation.
No Bearing Arms
Felony convictions in Texas can result in the loss of the right to bear arms. The Texas Department of Public Safety can decide or be ordered not to issue firearm licenses to people with certain convictions. For example, firearm-related felonies often result in the loss of firearm privileges.
Can Felony Charges or Convictions Be Lowered?
Felony charges can be reduced to misdemeanor charges in certain situations. The main method of getting felony charges reduced is through plea bargains. A plea bargain is an agreement between a defendant and Texas to come to a resolution regarding the defendant’s charges. This strategy gives the defendant’s legal team the opportunity to point out mistakes in the way the case has been handled. For example, if the defendant’s car was searched illegally and the search resulted in a discovery that led to their arrest, the legal team can use that to negotiate a lesser charge.
Sometimes, a felony charge can be removed from someone’s record after they have been convicted through expungement. Expungement requires companies and state agencies to remove records regarding someone’s conviction from electronic and physical sources. Only a small number of people are eligible for expungement, such as people who have been acquitted or pardoned. Therefore, working with reliable legal counsel to avoid felony charges is the easiest way to prevent them from altering your life permanently.
Let Us Help You
We are proud to provide experienced and dependable legal counsel to all of our clients at Derek A. Adame, Attorney at Law. Every case requires a unique defense, which is why we work tirelessly on behalf of our clients to look at every aspect of their case and develop an individualized legal strategy. With more than 24 years of experience serving Denton County, we will work tirelessly to help you receive a favorable outcome in your case. Contact us at (940) 441-4239 or online for a free initial consultation today.