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, but there are five categories 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

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.

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.

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Author: Patrick Hill

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