Monday, April 16, 2012

Texas First Degree Felony Crime and Consequences


What is a First Degree Felony in Texas?

Criminal offenses in Texas are charged under the categories of misdemeanors and felonies.  Felonies are the most serious criminal offenses and carry the most severe penalties.  A felony is generally considered any criminal offense more serious than a misdemeanor, and that is punishable by imprisonment of more than one year.  A felony crime is classified as a State Jail Felony, Third-Degree Felony, Second-Degree Felony, First-Degree Felony, or a Capital Felony, the most serious being a Capital Felony that can bring a penalty of life imprisonment or death.

First Degree Felonies are among the most serious crimes in Texas, second only to capital felonies.  Examples of crimes that are considered First Degree Felonies include but are not limited to the following:

  • Aggravated robbery
  • Aggravated assault of a public servant
  • Aggravated kidnapping
  • Aggravated sexual assault
  • Burglary of a habitation with the intent to commit or with the commission of a felony
  • Arson of a habitation
  • Causing serious bodily injury to a child, elderly person, or disabled person
  • Escape from custody with serious bodily injury
  • Murder
  • Solicitation of capital murder
  • Trafficking of children under the age of fourteen
Consequences of a First Degree Felony Conviction in Texas

Conviction of a First Degree Felony in Texas carries harsh penalties, including the possibility of life imprisonment, imprisonment for 5 to 99 years, and a fine of up to $10,000, with the possibility of community supervision (adult probation).  Prosecutors can seek to enhance your felony charge to a more serious felony depending on the particular crime being charged and your criminal history. The Texas Penal Code has broad sentencing guidelines for criminal offenses.  The exact sentence will be in the judge’s discretion, with recommendations from the prosecution and possibly the jury. 
In some cases, community supervision or probation may be an option for a First Degree Felony conviction, especially for a first conviction, if the sentence pronounced is no longer than 10 years.  Community supervision suspends a defendant’s jail or prison sentence in return for the fulfillment of certain conditions to be met by the defendant.  These conditions are set by the court and usually involve reporting on a regular basis to a community supervision officer, allowing regular home inspections, holding a regular job, paying fines, and making other restitution. If the defendant does not comply with the conditions, then on a motion to revoke the supervision can be revoked, and the defendant can be sentenced for a prison term for up to the original maximum sentence.

Community supervision terms can be for as long as ten years for felony convictions.  The defendant may be eligible for early release from supervision if he or she meets all the conditions during the first third of the sentence term.  Community supervision may not be available for defendants sentenced to more than 10 years, those having previous felony convictions, or those having a conviction for a violent crime such as capital murder, indecency with a child or aggravated robbery (known as 3g offenses in the Texas Penal Code).

Defendants convicted of serious felonies or repeated felonies will be most likely to have to spend some time in a Texas county jail or prison.  Sentences can run cumulatively, so that when one sentence ends the next sentence begins, or concurrently, running at the same time.  Defendants will receive credit for time spent in jail while awaiting trial.   

Conviction of a First Degree Felony or any felony offense can have devastating consequences to you and your loved ones.  In addition to possible jail or prison time and substantial fines, having a felony conviction on your permanent criminal record can prevent you from getting a job or from being able to improve your education.  It can result in your not being able to vote, to own a firearm, or even to find housing.  You may also experience considerable financial problems.

Criminal felony charges of any kind are a very grave matter and should be taken seriously.  The penalties for felony conviction are severe and can have profoundly negative consequences that can be permanently damaging to your personal and professional life.
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Author: Andrew Sullo
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