The Difference between Misdemeanor and Felony Charges
The primary distinction between a misdemeanor charge and a felony charge in the state of Texas lies in the severity of the consequences in the event of a conviction. Misdemeanors are generally lesser crimes which are divided into classes depending on the degree of seriousness and the type of punishment. Because a misdemeanor conviction could also result in the loss of certain privileges such as your driver’s license or even revocation of public office it’s important to give these charges the seriousness they warrant. The legal team at Sullo & Sullo will always strive to provide the highest level of representation and will be there to offer help when you need it most.
Classes of Misdemeanor Charges in Texas
A Class C misdemeanor conviction in Texas—such as a traffic ticket—generally brings only a fine, a Class B misdemeanor in Texas such as possession of a small amount of marijuana can bring as much as a $2,000 fine and 180 days in jail and a Class A misdemeanor conviction could bring up to a $4,000 fine and a year in jail. Even in the case of a relatively harmless-sounding misdemeanor charge, you should always take the precaution of being represented by a Texas criminal law attorney who will work hard to ensure the best possible outcome for your specific circumstances.
Degrees of Felony Charges
A felony charge can have much more serious penalties and consequences than a misdemeanor charge, and no matter what felony you have been charged with it is imperative you immediately hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to work on your behalf. As with misdemeanor charges there are different degrees of felony charges in Texas. A state jail felony can bring up to two years in the Texas Department of Corrections without parole, a 3rd degree felony can bring two to ten years in prison, a 2nd degree felony carries two to twenty years in prison, a 1st degree felony can lead to from five to 99 years in prison, and a capital felony conviction brings a life sentence without the possibility of parole or the death penalty.
“1244” Crimes and the “Three Strikes” Law
A 1244 crime is one that could be charged either as a felony or a misdemeanor depending largely on the discretion of the prosecutor. In some cases a 1244 charge can begin as a felony then be reduced to a misdemeanor at sentencing. If the prosecutor in your case is pushing your crime as a felony when it could potentially be downgraded to a misdemeanor, a criminal defense attorney from Sullo & Sullo, LLP will work tirelessly to find flaws in the investigation in order to negotiate lesser charges with a more favorable outcome.
The three strikes law in Texas can dramatically increase the punishment for repeat offenders, meaning a third felony offense conviction could land you in prison for a minimum of twenty-five years or even the remainder of your life. As defined by the law, a “strike” is a serious or violent felony including such crimes as burglary or assault. The experienced felony defense attorneys at Sullo & Sullo, LLP understand the seriousness of a third strike charge and will aggressively evaluate the evidence against you early in the case to determine whether to negotiate a plea bargain in return for canceling this very grave third strike. When the stakes are high and your future is on the line, hiring the most knowledgeable, skilled criminal defense attorney is essential.
Crimes Which Cause Harm to Others
Most crimes which cause injury to others are charged as felonies, however even when the person has not been seriously injured a criminal act may still have been committed. For instance, a person who deliberately harasses another person can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor; harassment can include something as slight as making an obscene comment in the course of communicating via a phone call or letter or even calling another person and hanging up.
Assault can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the severity and can include threatening another person, or deliberately engaging in physical contact with another with the intent to cause harm. Sex crimes can often be charged as a misdemeanor unless a child is involved in which case they automatically are charged as a felony.
You May Not Have the Luxury of Time
If you have been charged with a felony or misdemeanor in Texas, we urge you to act decisively and be as proactive as possible about protecting your rights and future. A felony conviction in particular, and even a misdemeanor conviction can bring a wide array of negative consequences into your life including jail or prison time, substantial fines, a criminal record that never goes away, career or housing difficulties, the inability to get the job you want, financial problems and loss of privileges you likely take for granted.
Most people experience shock and denial following their arrest which is why it is prudent to contact an experienced Houston criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Even if you have not yet been charged, but believe you are under investigation, the time to secure an advocate in your corner is now. The criminal lawyers of Sullo & Sullo, LLP will always strive to first have your case dismissed, however if a dismissal or acquittal at trial does not appear likely, we will then work to have your charges reduced and penalties minimized
While our goal will be to resolve your issues outside of trial, we recognize that a trial can be necessary. Our Houston criminal law attorneys have the expertise and over a decade of successfully defending those faced with criminal charges—we are ready to step inside the courtroom when the situation demands. While everyone hopes they will never need the services of a criminal lawyer, if the time comes when you do, contact Sullo & Sullo, LLP for comprehensive criminal representation.
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