The Texas criminal justice system determines penalties for criminal offenses bases on various factors. These can include an accused individual's age (whether or not they are a juvenile), their criminal history (whether or not they have been convicted of any offense or the same offense in the past), and most significantly, the nature of their charge.
While all cases are different and although penalties can vary depending on these factors, Texas prosecutors and courts often determine punishments for convicted individuals according to a set of sentencing guidelines. These guidelines are just that – guidelines. They often provide minimum and maximum terms, within which judges can use their discretion to appropriately choose the sentence and penalties that fit the particular case and crime. Depending on the circumstances, convicted individuals may also be subjected to other penalties, including probation, monitoring, community service, and others. According to § 12.01 of the Texas Penal Code, crimes are classified and penalized as follows:
- Class A Misdemeanor – fines up to $4,000, up to one year imprisonment, or both
- Class B Misdemeanor – fines up to $2,000, up to 180 days imprisonment, or both
- Class C Misdemeanor – fines up to $500, no jail time
- Capital Felony – punishable by life without the possibility of parole or by death
- First-Degree Felony –between 5 to 99 years imprisonment, or a life sentence, fines up to $10,000
- Second-Degree Felony – between 2 and 20 years imprisonment, fines up to $10,000
- Third-Degree Felony – between 2 and 10 years imprisonment, fines up to $10,000
- State Jail Felony – between 180 days and 2 years imprisonment, fines up to $10,000
Just because these guidelines are in place does not mean that you will suffer the maximum sentences and penalties, especially when you have a diligent, experienced Houston criminal defense attorney on your side. Additionally, just because they are in place does not mean that you have no ability to prove your innocence, or to create a defense that provides the best possible chances of obtaining reduced charges, reduced penalties, or alternative sentencing options.
What these guidelines should help you understand is that from misdemeanors to felonies and all charges in between, the penalties and consequences are still very real. Financial burdens and professional obstacles, criminal convictions can have long-term and profound repercussions, which is why it is so crucial to find legal representation from proven criminal attorneys in Houston. Learn more about the charges and penalties you face and how Billy Skinner & Associates can help by calling (713) 600-7777 or filling out a free case evaluation form.