If you have been charged with a crime in Texas, it is only natural to experience a wide range of emotions, including fear, anxiety, and even shock. If this is your first time being charged with a crime, the stress associated with the unknown can be overwhelming. Understanding the basics as they relate to being charged with a crime in Texas can help you find your best path forward.
Civil vs. Criminal Charges
First, it is important to understand the difference between a civil and a criminal charge. A civil charge refers to a case brought by one party against another party, such as in a personal injury case when an injured motorist files a case against the negligent motorist who caused him or her to be injured in a traffic accident. If the plaintiff prevails in such a case, the defendant’s insurance company pays for the damages the plaintiff suffered.
A criminal case, on the other hand, is one brought by the state against an individual who is alleged to have committed a crime. If the state prevails, the accused is faced with a fine, other penalties, and/or time behind bars (depending upon the circumstances involved). It is important to recognize, however, that even a traffic citation is considered a crime in this sense, so all crimes are obviously not created equally. While this comparison is overly simplistic, it outlines the fundamentals involved.
Misdemeanor vs. Felony
Crimes in Texas – and elsewhere – are divided into classifications that are known as misdemeanors and felonies, and each of these classifications is further divided. For example, misdemeanors are divided into three categories that range from Class A to Class C, with A being the most serious. While a Class A or B misdemeanor can lead to jail time, a skilled criminal lawyer will skillfully advocate for a reduced sentence for a first-time offender.
Felonies are obviously more serious than misdemeanors, and their classifications follow (in ascending order of seriousness):
State jail felony
A felony charge – even for first-time offenders – always includes the potential for a sentence that involves time spent behind bars.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
Regardless of the kind of charges you are facing, it is in your best interest to work closely with an experienced criminal lawyer. The consequences of even a relatively minor conviction can be significant. With the professional legal counsel of an experienced lawyer by your side, you know that you are bringing your strongest case, which helps protect your rights and your future.
Charged as a First-Time Offender? A Killeen Criminal Lawyer Can Help
Facing criminal charges as an alleged first-time offender can be terrifying, but Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen, Texas, is a formidable criminal lawyer who is fully committed to fighting for your rights and for the best possible resolution of your case. Your case is important to us, so please do not hesitate to contact or call us at 254-501-4040 for more information today.