What You Need To Know About Felony And Misdemeanor Charges
There are both misdemeanor and felony criminal charges in Texas. Both can lead to fines and jail time although the more serious of the two is felony. Oftentimes the same or similar charge will start as a misdemeanor but will grow into a felony if the offender is repeatedly convicted.
At our firm, Lynn Libersky and Barbara Young believe it is best to consult an attorney even if the charges are not severe to begin with. This proactive approach can help in the long term by reducing charges or fines, particularly if you are arrested again at a later date here in Killeen or elsewhere.
What Is A Misdemeanor Charge?
A misdemeanor is a less serious crime that often includes DUI (first or second offense), simple assault, possession, moving violation, gambling or theft. In the case of federal misdemeanors, there are Class A, Class B and Class C misdemeanors with the former being the most severe and the latter being the least severe. Some general rules include:
- The defendant is fined up to $4,000
- The defendant can spend up to one year in county jail
- License may be suspended
While a misdemeanor may seem like a petty inconvenience on paper, potential employers can see a criminal record. It can also be difficult to keep a job or get around Killeen and Temple if you do not have a driver’s license. A misdemeanor can also disqualify you from federal student loans.
What Is A Felony?
Felonies are the more serious types of crimes. Sentencing depends on various circumstances, but often includes murder, sexual assault, aggravated assault, arson or kidnapping. A felony crime can be punishable by fine, and include sentencing of six months or more in a state or federal prison. If convicted, you can lose your right to bear arms, vote or acquire any state issued professional licenses. Some general rules include:
- Capital: Death or life in prison without parole
- First degree: Five to 99 years in state prison with a possible fine up to $10,000
- Second degree: Two to 20 years in state prison with a possible fine up to $10,000
- Third degree: Two to 10 years in state prison with a possible fine up to $10,000
- State jail: 180 days to two years in a state jail and a fine up to $10,000
In some cases, a knowledgeable criminal lawyer can fight for alternate sentences that include probation, weekends in jail, house arrest or community supervision. More serious or repeated felonies leave fewer options and will likely include at least some time behind bars. No matter the circumstances, we explore every option to achieve the best possible outcome in your case.