Difference Between Felony And Misdemeanor Charges

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Difference Between Felony And Misdemeanor Charges

Whats The Difference Between A Felony and A Misdemeanor

CLASSIFICATION OF OFFENSES. Offenses are designated as either felonies or misdemeanors. The most notable difference between felonies and misdemeanors is the severity of the punishment, or the sentence.

Misdemeanors are classified into three categories, depending on the seriousness of the offense:
Class A Misdemeanors Punishments

  • fines not to exceed $4,000;
  • confinement in jail for a term not to exceed one year; or
  • both a fine and confinement.

Class B Misdemeanor Punishments:

  • fines not to exceed $2,000;
  • confinement in jail for a term not to exceed 180 days; or
  • both a fine and confinement.

Class C Misdemeanor Punishments – Most Class C misdemeanors are punishable by a fine not to exceed $500.

On the other hand, felonies are classified by the seriousness of the offense as well. Felonies in Texas can potentially result in very long sentences. They can also have a detrimental affect on a person’s record when trying to apply for a job or renting a place to live. For that reason, anyone who receives a felony charge and/or conviction needs to work with an attorney or professional organization that can lay out the various options for disposing of the charge (before conviction) or identify options available to have the charge removed or suppressed from their criminal record. Serving the time is just one problem; the impact to the defendant’s reputation is a very real issue that has to be addressed as well.

Most individuals with felonies on their record tend to face continuous obstacles that include applying for almost any job or when seeking admittance to educational institutions. These obstacles create a snowball effect of disadvantages when someone is attempting to hurdle a felony conviction. And these disadvantages certainly play a major role in recidivism rates in the U.S. To say the least, we have a long way to go in this country to help reverse recidivism.

There are five categories for felonies, as opposed to 3 for misdemeanors. Those levels are listed below:

  • capital felonies;
  • felonies of the first degree;
  • felonies of the second degree;
  • felonies of the third degree; and
    • (a) state jail felonies.
    • (b) An offense designated a felony in this code without specification as to category is a state jail felony.

The definitions and codes below are from: Texas Penal Codes

SUBCHAPTER C. ORDINARY FELONY PUNISHMENTS

For Texas, capital felony convictions are punishable by either death or life in prison without parole. For example, murder is one such conviction that is a capital felony. Why would a defendant get life in prison as opposed to the death penalty? Well, one reason might be that the defendant may have been considered a juvenile at the time the offense was committed. Prosecutors have the option to not seek the death penalty which could result in the defendant getting life in prison.

Sec. 12.31. CAPITAL FELONY. (a) An individual adjudged guilty of a capital felony in a case in which the state seeks the death penalty shall be punished by imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for life without parole or by death. An individual adjudged guilty of a capital felony in a case in which the state does not seek the death penalty shall be punished by imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for:
(1) life, if the individual’s case was transferred to the court under Section 54.02, Family Code; or
(2) life without parole.
(b) In a capital felony trial in which the state seeks the death penalty, prospective jurors shall be informed that a sentence of life imprisonment without parole or death is mandatory on conviction of a capital felony. In a capital felony trial in which the state does not seek the death penalty, prospective jurors shall be informed that the state is not seeking the death penalty and that:
(1) a sentence of life imprisonment is mandatory on conviction of the capital felony, if the case was transferred to the court under Section 54.02, Family Code; or
(2) a sentence of life imprisonment without parole is mandatory on conviction of the capital felony.

For other felonies, we’ll use a Theft of Property charge as an example of how the punishment changes based on the level of the felony. We’ll start with the level that has the least repercussions.

State Jail Felony

A state jail felony that involves a theft of property charge is where the property is valued at $1500.00 or more, but less than $20000.00. Sometimes this level is also referred to as a fourth degree felony. Of course there are other charges that are state jail felonies, but we’re just using the theft of property as our example.

Third-Degree Felony

Moving on to third degree felonies – if the property involved in the theft is valued at $20,000 or more, the theft of property charge will be considered a third-degree felony. As with state jail felonies, there are other charges that fall into the third degree felony range. This level is not exclusive to theft of property charges.

Second Degree Felony

When the property involved is valued at $100,000.00, the theft of property charge will be a second degree felony.

First Degree Felony

A first degree felony for a theft of property is where the property involved is valued at $200,000 and above.

FIRST DEGREE FELONY PUNISHMENT. (a) An individual adjudged guilty of a felony of the first degree shall be punished by imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for life or for any term of not more than 99 years or less than 5 years.
(b) In addition to imprisonment, an individual adjudged guilty of a felony of the first degree may be punished by a fine not to exceed $10,000.

SECOND DEGREE FELONY PUNISHMENT. (a) An individual adjudged guilty of a felony of the second degree shall be punished by imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for any term of not more than 20 years or less than 2 years.
(b) In addition to imprisonment, an individual adjudged guilty of a felony of the second degree may be punished by a fine not to exceed $10,000.

Sec. 12.34. THIRD DEGREE FELONY PUNISHMENT. (a) An individual adjudged guilty of a felony of the third degree shall be punished by imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for any term of not more than 10 years or less than 2 years.
(b) In addition to imprisonment, an individual adjudged guilty of a felony of the third degree may be punished by a fine not to exceed $10,000.

Sec. 12.35. STATE JAIL FELONY PUNISHMENT. (a) Except as provided by Subsection (c), an individual adjudged guilty of a state jail felony shall be punished by confinement in a state jail for any term of not more than two years or less than 180 days.
(b) In addition to confinement, an individual adjudged guilty of a state jail felony may be punished by a fine not to exceed $10,000.
(c) An individual adjudged guilty of a state jail felony shall be punished for a third degree felony if it is shown on the trial of the offense that:
(1) a deadly weapon as defined by Section 1.07 was used or exhibited during the commission of the offense or during immediate flight following the commission of the offense, and that the individual used or exhibited the deadly weapon or was a party to the offense and knew that a deadly weapon would be used or exhibited; or
(2) the individual has previously been finally convicted of any felony:
(A) under Section 20A.03 or 21.02 or listed in Section 3g(a)(1), Article 42.12, Code of Criminal Procedure; or
(B) for which the judgment contains an affirmative finding under Section 3g(a)(2), Article 42.12, Code of Criminal Procedure.

Southern Bail Bonds Dallas can provide you with a Dallas County Bail Bonds 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Call us at 214-372-2500.  Regardless of the type of felony your loved one is facing, it’s important to understand what your options are. Even though the bail set by the judge may seem high, a bail bondsman can step in and provide assistance with posting the bail. For bail bond assistance in Texas, contact us at Southern Bail Bonds Dallas today. We’re here and ready help!

Author: Patrick Hill

Legal statement: Nothing on this page or this site is intended to provide legal advise. We’re bail bondsman, not attorneys, so if you have questions about the state penal code or anything related to any criminal charges, Southern Bail Bonds Dallas suggest you contact a qualified attorney and schedule a consultation for additional information.

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