DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A FELONY & MISDEMEANOR?

Aside from severity in terms of the conduct that might be required when an offense is committed, the major difference between a Felony and Misdemeanor is the sentencing, or punishment.

Misdemeanors in Travis County, Texas, are divided in to three categories. Class C Misdemeanors are the lowest level of offense in Texas, and are punishable only by fines up to $500. Some Class C Misdemeanors also have collateral consequences, such as Driver's License suspensions, DPS surcharges, voting/jury duty rights (mainly on Thefts), and immigration consequences -- so merely paying off a fine might not be the best idea.

Class B Misdemeanors are handled by the County Court. They are the lowest level of Misdemeanor that carries with it the potential for jail time. Class B Misdemeanors are punishable, if convicted, or up to $2000 in fines and up to 6 months in the County Jail. Class A Misdemeanors are the most severe misdemeanors, and the penalty, if convicted, is basically double that of a Class B; up to $4000 fines and up to 1 year in the County Jail.

Many Class A Misdemeanors can be enhanced, meaning that if you're convicted once, and if you ever are arrested for the same type of offense, the prosecutor can enhance or increase that new offense, typically to a State Jail Felony, or, if a Family Assault, to a 3rd Degree Felony.

State Jail Felonies are punishable by between 6 months and 2 years in the State Jail, which is basically a prison, but more of an intermediary one. Its intended purpose was to serve more of a rehabilitative role, since typically lower level offenders end up there than in Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDC or TDCJ). Sentences at the State Jail are day-for-day, meaning no work or labor credits: you do every single day of your sentence with no early releases. There is also no parole once released.

Felonies, other than State Jail offenses, are categorized into Degrees, with 3rd Degree being the least severe; punishable with prison between 2 years and 10 years. 2nd Degree Felonies increase the maximum prison sentence to 20 years (minimum still 2 years). It goes up from there.

There are ways to reduce charges to lower classes or offenses, so what you're arrested with or charged with does not necessarily mean you'll end up with that same charge at the same class. Call us for more information.


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