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The difference between a misdemeanor and a felony in Texas

There are two primary classifications for criminal acts in Texas -- felonies and misdemeanors. In each of these classifications, there are different subclasses. The circumstances of the crime determines where the charge falls.

The subclasses of felonies are known as degrees. The subclasses of misdemeanors are known as classes. Understanding what all of this means can help you when you are facing a criminal charge because this has a significant impact on the penalties you face.

Felony degrees

Felonies have five subclasses. Three of these are notated by degrees. The other two are capital felony and state level felony. A capital felony is the most serious charge, as this one can lead to execution. Murder is the only charge that falls in this subclass.

A first-degree felony is next on the severity list. Aggravated sexual assault is an example of a crime in this subclass. You face 5 to 99 years in prison if you are convicted of a first-degree felony.

A second-degree felony is third on the severity list. Reckless injury to a child and aggravated assault are two crimes in this subclass. The incarceration period for a conviction of a second-degree felony is 2 to 20 years.

A third-degree felony is fourth on the list. One example of this type of crime is a drive-by shooting that didn't have any injuries. The possible incarceration period here is 2 to 10 years.

A state jail felony is the least serious type of felony. Credit or debit card abuse is a charge in this subclass. You face 180 days to 2 years in jail for this type of crime.

Misdemeanor classes

There are three classes of misdemeanor charges in Texas. Each is denoted by a letter with class A being the most serious and class C being the least serious.

A class A misdemeanor carries up to a year in jail. Stalking without causing injury is a crime in this class.

A class B misdemeanor is associated with 180 days in jail. Making terroristic threats and possession of up to four ounces of marijuana fall in this class.

A class C misdemeanor doesn't lead to any time in jail. Assault without any bodily injury is one crime in this class.

The defense strategy that you choose has to match up with the charge. You shouldn't try to handle a first-degree felony in the same manner as you would handle a class C misdemeanor. Think carefully about the possible penalties as you are working to determine how to address the charge.

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