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  • Writer's pictureBrad Thornton

What are the punishment ranges in Texas?

As a criminal defense attorney in San Antonio, Texas, I often receive questions about the punishment ranges for different types of crimes. Whether you are facing a misdemeanor or a felony charge, the potential consequences can be severe. In Texas, the severity of the punishment is determined by the classification of the offense and the offender's criminal history. This blog post will provide an overview of the punishment ranges for misdemeanors and felonies in Texas, as well as the penalties for repeat and habitual offenders.


Types of Correctional Facilities in Texas


Texas Punishment Ranges

When attempting to understand the punishment ranges, it is also important to understand the different types of correctional facilities. In Texas, there are different types of correctional facilities where individuals may be incarcerated depending on the severity of their offense and the type of sentence imposed. These facilities include county jails, state jails, and prisons.


County jails are typically run by the county Sheriff and are used to hold individuals who are awaiting trial or who have been sentenced to a short-term sentence of up to one year.


State jails, on the other hand, are a type of correctional facility that is used to hold individuals who have been convicted of state jail felonies. State jail felonies are less serious than other types of felonies, but they are still considered to be serious crimes. The punishment range for a state jail felony is discussed below.


Prisons are correctional facilities that are used to hold individuals who have been convicted of capital murder or first, second, or third-degree felonies. In Texas, prisons are operated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and are generally used to hold individuals who have been sentenced to more than two years of incarceration. The length of a prison sentence can vary depending on the nature of the offense and the specific sentence imposed.


Classification of Offenses in Texas


Now, let's take a closer look at how Texas classifies criminal offenses and the punishment ranges that are attached:


Misdemeanors


Misdemeanors are less serious offenses than felonies and are punishable by a fine of up to $4,000, jail time of up to one year, or both. In Texas, misdemeanors are classified into three categories: Class A, Class B, and Class C. The punishment ranges for each category are as follows:


  • Class C misdemeanor: Punishable by a fine of up to $500

  • Class B misdemeanor: Punishable by a fine of up to $2,000, jail time of up to 180 days, or both

  • Class A misdemeanor: Punishable by a fine of up to $4,000, jail time of up to one year, or both


Felonies


Felonies are more serious offenses than misdemeanors and are punishable by imprisonment in a state prison facility. In Texas, felonies are classified into five categories: Capital Felony, First Degree Felony, Second Degree Felony, Third Degree Felony, and State Jail Felony. The punishment ranges for each category are as follows:


  • Capital Felony: Punishable by death or life imprisonment without parole

  • First-Degree Felony: Punishable by imprisonment for life or for a term of not more than 99 years or less than 5 years, and a fine of up to $10,000

  • Second-Degree Felony: Punishable by imprisonment for a term of not more than 20 years or less than 2 years, and a fine of up to $10,000

  • Third-Degree Felony: Punishable by imprisonment for a term of not more than 10 years or less than 2 years, and a fine of up to $10,000

  • State Jail Felony: Punishable by imprisonment in a state jail facility for a term of not more than two years or less than 180 days, and a fine of up to $10,000


Enhancements for Offenders on Trial for First, Second, or Third Degree Felony


If an offender on trial for a First, Second, or Third-Degree Felony has previously been to prison for a First, Second, or Third-Degree Felony, the punishment ranges are as follows:


  • First-Degree Felony: 15 to 99 years or life imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000

  • Second-Degree Felony: 5 to 99 years or life imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000

  • Third-Degree Felony: 2 to 20 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000



If an offender on trial for a First, Second, or Third-Degree Felony has previously been to prison two consecutive times for a First, Second, or Third-Degree Felony, the punishment range is the same:


  • 25 to 99 years or life imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000


Enhancements for Offenders on Trial for a State Jail Felony


If an offender on trial for a State Jail Felony has two state jail trips, the punishment range is:


  • 2 to 10 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000


If an offender on trial for a State Jail Felony has consecutive prison trips for a First, Second, or Third-Degree Felony, the punishment range is:


  • 2 to 10 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000


Enhancements for Repeat Misdemeanor Offenders


If it is shown on the trial of a Class A misdemeanor that the defendant has been before convicted of a Class A misdemeanor or any degree of felony, then the minimum jail sentence is increased to 90 days.


If it is shown on the trial of a Class B misdemeanor that the defendant has been before convicted of a Class A or Class B misdemeanor or any degree of felony, then the minimum jail sentence is increased to 30 days.


Possibility of Probation


Probation can be a potential alternative to incarceration for individuals who have been convicted of a crime in Texas. However, not all offenders are eligible for probation, and there are different types of probation that may be available.


Probation Eligibility


To be eligible for probation in Texas, an offender must meet certain criteria. In general, individuals who are convicted of a first-time misdemeanor offense or a low-level felony offense may be eligible for probation. However, offenders who have a prior criminal history or who have been convicted of a more serious offense may not be eligible.


Additionally, offenders must meet certain requirements in order to be placed on probation. These requirements may include paying fines and court fees, completing community service, attending counseling or treatment programs, and complying with other conditions set by the court.


Types of Probation


In Texas, there are two main types of probation: straight probation and deferred probation.


Straight probation is a type of probation where an offender is placed on probation for a set period of time, typically ranging from six months to two years. During this time, the offender is required to meet certain conditions, such as attending counseling or treatment programs, completing community service, and avoiding further criminal activity. If the offender successfully completes their probation, they may be eligible to have their conviction expunged or sealed from their criminal record.


Deferred probation, also known as deferred adjudication, is a type of probation where an offender is placed on probation without being formally convicted of the offense. Instead, the court defers judgment on the case, allowing the offender to complete a probationary period. If the offender successfully completes their probation, the charges may be dismissed, and the offender may be eligible to have their record sealed or expunged. However, if the offender violates the terms of their probation, the court may impose a conviction and sentence them accordingly.


Maximum Length of Probation


The maximum length of probation in Texas varies depending on the offense. For misdemeanor offenses, the maximum length of probation is generally up to two years. For felony offenses, the maximum length of probation is typically up to 10 years, although certain offenses may have shorter maximum probation periods.


It's important to note that these punishment ranges are just a general overview and may be subject to change based on specific circumstances and factors in each individual case. Additionally, criminal defense attorneys may be able to negotiate lesser charges or lighter sentences for their clients through plea bargains or other legal strategies.


San Antonio Criminal Defense Attorney Brad Thornton


Understanding the punishment ranges, incarceration options, and probation eligibility in Texas can be complex and overwhelming. That's why it's important to seek the guidance of an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you navigate the legal system and protect your rights.


San Antonio Criminal Defense Attorney

At Thornton Criminal Defense, we offer free consultations and are dedicated to providing personalized, aggressive representation to individuals facing criminal charges. We understand the importance of fighting for your freedom and future, and we will work tirelessly to achieve the best possible outcome for your case.


Whether you are facing misdemeanor or felony charges, or are considering probation as an alternative to incarceration, our team is here to help. With years of experience and a track record of success, we have the knowledge and skills necessary to protect your rights and fight for your freedom.


Don't wait to get the legal representation you deserve. Contact us today at 210-439-5627 to schedule your free consultation and learn how we can help you with your criminal defense needs.

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CRIMINAL LAW BLOG

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Attorney Brad Thornton is a highly experienced and Board-Certified criminal defense lawyer. With his background as a former Chief Prosecutor, he has a unique understanding of the criminal justice system and is able to provide comprehensive and effective representation to his clients. He is also deeply committed to ensuring that all individuals receive fair treatment in court, regardless of their background or circumstances.

Brad Thornton is dedicated to helping his clients achieve the best possible outcome for their case, whether it is in San Antonio or elsewhere in South Texas. He recognizes the stress and anxiety that can come with being accused of a crime, and approaches his clients with compassion while keeping them informed at every step of the process. His knowledge and experience make him a strong advocate for his clients.

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© 2023 by Thornton Criminal Defense, PLLC. 

Atascosa County Criminal Defense Attorney

San Antonio Office:

111 Soledad, Suite 401

San Antonio, Texas 78205

Tel: 210-439-5627

Atascosa Office:

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Pleasanton, Texas 78064

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