What is the Difference Between Misdemeanors, Felonies, and Infractions in Texas?

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Not all criminal offenses are equal. The Texas Penal Code has a classification of criminal offenses according to their severity. Texas law recognizes three types of crimes:

  1. Infractions

  2. Misdemeanors

  3. Felonies

Each category has its own penalties, and each has its own subtypes, such as second-degree and first-degree felonies. Defenses also vary from one category to another, which is why it is essential to speak with a Belton criminal defense attorney to discuss your particular situation.

What’s the Difference Between Misdemeanors, Felonies, and Infractions?

If you are facing criminal charges in Texas, it is vital to understand the difference between misdemeanors, felonies, and infractions:

  1. Infractions are the least serious category of crime in Texas. Typically, penalties for an infraction include community service, tickets, and fines. People are typically not arrested for committing an infraction and do not face jail time. Many traffic violations, such as speeding, are infractions.

  2. Misdemeanor is in the middle range of the crime categories in Texas. While this type of crime is more serious than infractions, it is less serious than felonies. Typically, penalties for a misdemeanor include a sentence in county jail, fines, and house arrest. Misdemeanors are broken down into three subtypes (Misdemeanor A, Misdemeanor B, and Misdemeanor C) according to the severity of the criminal offense.

  3. Felony is the most severe category of crime that includes penalties such as imprisonment, fines, and even the death penalty. There are five types of felonies: capital felony, a first-degree felony, a second-degree felony, a third-degree felony, and a state jail felony. Examples of a felony include aggravated robbery, manslaughter, child endangerment, DWI, and others.

While infractions do not stay on your criminal record, most misdemeanor/felony convictions will stay on your record. In fact, some convictions are not eligible for expungement in Texas. Having a criminal offense on your record can severely impact many aspects of your life, including your ability to find a job.

For this reason, it is critical to contact a skilled criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to avoid a conviction that would haunt you for the rest of your life. Contact our attorneys at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard to talk about your case and identify the most appropriate defenses to an infraction, misdemeanor, or felony in your case.

What Are Infractions in Texas?

As mentioned earlier, infractions are the least serious category of crime under the Texas Penal Code. Typically, infractions are criminal offenses that are not severe enough to warrant an arrest but still deserve punishment. Examples of infractions are speeding, public nuisance, and traffic violations.

While a person is not usually arrested for committing an infraction in Texas, they may be issued a ticket. Penalties for an infraction in Texas include:

  • Fines

  • Tickets

  • Community service

  • Mandatory education classes

If you were convicted of an infraction in Texas, you might be able to get your criminal record sealed or expunged as long as they meet specific requirements.

What Are Misdemeanors in Texas?

Misdemeanors are criminal charges that are under the level of a felony. While you can be arrested for committing a misdemeanor, you cannot face a lengthy jail sentence. Examples of misdemeanors are simple assault, violation of a protective order, theft of between $750 and $2,500, and others.

Typically, penalties for committing a misdemeanor in Texas include:

  • Fines

  • Probation

  • Up to one year in jail

Misdemeanors are broken down into three categories according to their severity:

  1. Class A Misdemeanor

  2. Class B Misdemeanor

  3. Class C Misdemeanor

In some cases, a misdemeanor can be elevated into a felony.

What Are Felonies in Texas?

Typically, a criminal offense is considered a felony if it carries more than a year in jail. Felonies are the most severe type of criminal offense in Texas. Examples of felonies are sexual assaults, aggravated robbery, arson, stalking, and many more.

Felonies are associated with the most serious penalties, including lengthy jail sentences and harsh fines of up to $10,000. Felony is the only category of a crime punishable by life imprisonment and the death penalty. In addition to these penalties, a person convicted of a felony in Texas can lose:

  • The right to vote;

  • The right to carry a firearm;

  • The right to own a weapon;

  • The ability to get a job; and

  • Professional certifications and licenses.

The penalties depend on the circumstances of your offense and the severity of the felony.

Why You Need a Belton Criminal Defense Attorney

It is highly recommended to consult with a criminal defense attorney regardless of the type of criminal offense you are facing. A skilled attorney will help you understand your options and develop a successful defense strategy to help you get the charges dismissed or reduced.

Depending on the charges you are facing, your attorney could help you reduce your jail sentence or avoid imprisonment altogether. A Belton criminal defense attorney will help you choose the most appropriate defense for your particular offense. Possible defense strategies include but are not limited to:

  • Mistaken identity

  • Duress

  • Entrapment

  • Insanity

  • Mistake of fact

  • Intoxication

It takes a results-driven and experienced attorney to assert one of these defenses properly and successfully defend a client. That is why you need a criminal defense attorney in your corner to prove your defense and help you avoid a conviction.

At The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard, we are dedicated to protecting your freedom and reputation at all costs. Our knowledgeable lawyers will help you identify the most appropriate defense in your particular case and present your case in the most convincing manner possible.

Speak with our experienced attorneys regardless of whether you are facing an infraction, misdemeanor, or felony. Our lawyers understand how a criminal conviction can affect a person’s life, which is why our goal is to protect your rights and help you reach a favorable resolution in your criminal case.

Call (254) 220-4225 or complete our contact form for a free case evaluation with our attorneys at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard.
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