Criminal Sentencing Guidelines
Punishment for a crime will vary based on the type of crime, your criminal history and your unique case. A criminal defense lawyer can help you understand more about the classification of your crime and the potential sentencing.
Texas has sentencing guidelines which ensure that consistent and appropriate punishments are dealt by the court. Crimes are separated into different categories based on their level of severity. Misdemeanors, which are generally considered to be less serious than felonies, are separated by classes, while felonies are generally classified by degrees.
Understanding the Classes of Misdemeanors
- Class A Misdemeanor. The most serious of misdemeanor defenses in Texas, you could see fines up to $4,000 and one year in jail with three years of probation. If you’re a first-time offender, you may be able to get a plea deal called a deferred adjudication, in which your case will be dismissed if you complete your probation period with no incidents.
- Class B Misdemeanor. The punishment for a Class B Misdemeanor can be up to 180 days in jail, fines of up to $2,000 and up to three years of probation. You may also be able to receive a deferred adjudication if you’re a first-time offender.
- Class C Misdemeanor. Minor violations such as petty theft or traffic violations are considered Class C Misdemeanors in Texas, with fines of up to $500 and no jail time.
Understanding the Degrees of Felonies
- Capital Felony. The most severe type of felony, these crimes often carry a life sentence in prison or even the death penalty, and include crimes such as murder and treason.
- First-Degree Felony. You could also see life in prison or fines of up to $10,000 with a First-Degree Felony. Crimes can include murder, aggravated robbery or kidnapping.
- Second-Degree Felony. Second-Degree Felonies generally carry sentences of up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000, and can include crimes such as robbery and manslaughter.
- Third-Degree Felony. These crimes can carry up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000, with crimes including assault and inappropriate conduct with a child.
- State Jail Felony. These crimes could include jail time of up to two years and fines of up to $2,000. In some cases, the crime may be reduced to a misdemeanor.