Criminal Punishment Ranges in Texas

Happy Friday everybody. For this week’s video, another basic of criminal law, but I wanted to go over because it’s important and it’s something that a lot of people don’t fully understand and that’s the ranges of punishment for different levels of offenses in the State of Texas. So starting with the misdemeanor offenses, the lowest level offense that we have here in the State of Texas is a Class C Misdemeanor. Most people are familiar with a Class C Misdemeanor being a speeding ticket. If you’re sided with a Class C Misdemeanor like public intoxication or possession of drug paraphernalia, the maximum that the state can sentence you to is fine only, a fine not to exceed $500. So no jail at all.

Next step up is a Class B Misdemeanor. This is typically your first time DWIs or possession of marijuana in a small amount. The range of punishment there is a term in the County jail not to exceed 180 days. So up to six months in the County jail and a fine not to exceed $2,000. Right above that is your Class A Misdemeanors. This is DWI where your BAC is above a 0.15. It’s an assault family violence case. Range of punishment there is up to a year in the County jail and a fine not to exceed $4,000.

Once we get above that, that’s when we get into felony range. That’s when things start really getting a little bit more serious. The first felony that we have is a stop gap between misdemeanors and bigger level felonies. That’s called a state jail felony. What a state jail felony is, is confinement in a state jail between six months and up to two years. So it’s between six months and two years in the state jail facility and a fine not to exceed $10,000.

Right above that, you have your third degree felonies. Third degree felonies are imprisonment for not more than 10 years, but not less than two years. So you’ve got between two and 10 on a third degree felony, again, another fine not to exceed $10,000, same amount as the state jail. Above the third degree, you have your second degree felonies. Second degrees is between two and 20. So the same minimum level as the third degree, but the maximum get raised. So it’s between two and 20. Fine amount stays the same. Fine not to exceed $10,000.

Above the second degree, then you get into the really serious stuff, the first degree felonies. The first degree felonies can carry up to life. So normally it’s between not more than 99 years or life depending on the situation, depending on the facts, depending on the case. The fine still stays at that $10,000 mark. But really what you’re looking at there is more the increased in jail time exposure. And finally, above the first degree felonies, you have capital felonies in Texas. What a capital case means is that the state can either seek the death penalty or they can seek a life without the possibility of parole. That’s the only level of offense where parole is taken off of the table when go into the system.

So there they are. Those are your levels of offenses in the State of Texas. Whenever you’re charged with a criminal offense or whenever somebody you know is charged with a criminal offense, the very first thing you have to understand is what level offense is being charged because that’s going to dictate really how serious it is, how important it is to get going really quickly. And then come and talk to a lawyer like me or like somebody who knows criminal law that can walk you through the next steps from there.

Hope this video is a little bit of help, broke down some of those levels. If you have any questions about this or anything else, as always, give me a call, shoot me an email. I’m happy to talk with you about them. Hope you have a great weekend and we’ll see you again.

Author Bio

James P. Whalen

James P. Whalen is the managing attorney and founder of Whalen Law Office, a Texas criminal defense firm offering personalized legal representation for various federal criminal charges. With a commitment to providing comfort and guidance during challenging times, Mr. Whalen serves as both an attorney and counselor to his clients, helping them navigate their cases while striving to restore normalcy to their lives.

In an inherently unbalanced criminal justice system, Mr. Whalen takes on cases with unwavering dedication. With decades of legal experience, he offers representation across various criminal charges, including white-collar crimes, violent crimes, drug charges, and more. Mr. Whalen’s numerous accolades, including Super Lawyer recognition and board certification in Criminal Appellate Law and Criminal Law, reflect his unwavering commitment to ethical and high-quality legal representation.

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