The crimes that Texans are most likely to be charged with include those related to drug possession, theft, robbery, burglary, and assault. Each of these is a serious crime that can lead to serious penalties and fines – and can alter the course of your future in surprisingly negative ways.
If you have been charged with any kind of a crime in the State of Texas, do not wait to reach out to an experienced Killeen criminal defense attorney for the legal guidance that you need.
Drug charges vary according to the type and amount of drug that is involved.
Group 1 Drugs
Group 1 drugs include the most serious street drugs and the most dangerous painkillers, including all the following substances:
There is also a Group 1-A category that includes illegal drugs like LSD. Charges related to Group 1 drugs are always a felony. When only a minuscule amount of the drug in question is detected, however, the charge is sometimes reduced, often to charges of possession of paraphernalia.
Group 2 Drugs
Group 2 drugs move on to street drugs such as cannabinoids created from cannabis, Ecstasy (or MDMA), PCP, and hashish. Group 2 drug charges generally start as state jail felonies (with up to a year in jail and up to $2,000 in fines) but can range all the way up to Class A felonies.
Group 3 Drugs
Group 3 drugs include prescription medications such as Valium and Xanax, anabolic steroids, Ritalin, and those opioids that are not listed in Group 1. Depending upon the amount of the drug in question, the charge can range from a Class A misdemeanor all the way up to a first-degree felony.
Group 4 Drugs
Those opiates and opioids that are not included in the Group 1 or the Group 3 classifications are classified as Group 4 drugs. Chemical compounds and prescription medications that have the potential for abuse are also listed here. The penalties and fines for Group 4 drugs are similar to those for Group 3.
Marijuana is in a classification of its own. While much of the country has softened its stance on marijuana, Texas has not followed suit. Possession of fewer than 2 ounces of marijuana is a Class B misdemeanor, but possession of more than 4 ounces is a state jail felony. From here, the charge can grow all the way to a first-class felony.
Drug charges are serious and complicated, and working closely with a dedicated criminal defense attorney who has considerable experience successfully guiding cases like yours toward beneficial resolutions is always in your best interest.
Theft refers to what you probably think of as stealing, and it encompasses a broad range of charges that includes each of the following:
Purchasing stolen goods
The seriousness of the charge generally depends on the value of the stolen item. Theft refers to taking property that belongs to someone else without that person’s consent – either by physically taking the property or through deception.
It is only necessary that the defendant keeps the stolen property in question long enough to deprive the owner of its value for the act to reach the level of theft. Taking something and later returning it for a reward remains an act of theft under Texas law.
In order for the charge of theft to hold, the state must demonstrate that you were acting with criminal intent, which means that all of the following criteria apply:
The defendant knew the property in question belonged to someone else.
The defendant knew that he or she did not have permission to take the property.
The defendant had actual possession of the property.
The charges and penalties for theft in Texas break down as follows:
If the property is valued at less than $50, the charge is a Class C misdemeanor, which can lead to fines of up to $500.
If the property is valued to be between $50 to $500, the charge is a Class B misdemeanor, which can lead to fines of up to $2,000 and to a sentence of not more than 180 days in county jail.
If the property is valued to be between $500 to $1,500, the charge is a Class A misdemeanor, which can lead to fines of up to $4,000 and to a sentence of not more than 1 year in county jail.
If the property is valued to be between $1,500 to $20,000, the charge is a state jail felony, which can lead to fines of up to $10,000 and to a sentence of not more than 2 years in state jail.
If the property is valued to be between $20,000 to $100,000, the charge is a third-degree felony, which can lead to fines of up to $10,000 and to a sentence of 2 to 10 years in state prison.
If the property is valued to be between $100,000 to $200,000, the charge is a second-degree felony, which can lead to fines of up to $10,000 and to a sentence of 2 to 20 years in state prison.
If the property is valued at $200,000 or more, the charge is a first-degree felony, which can lead to fines of up to $10,000 and to a sentence of 5 to 99 years in prison.
A prior theft conviction can leave you with enhanced charges. Further, the theft of certain items is always a felony (regardless of their value), including the following objects and substances:
A misdemeanor theft, such as a minor shoplifting offense, can quickly be elevated to a robbery charge if the accused resists being apprehended (by the store’s loss prevention team, for example). The additional effort of attempting to flee makes the theft a robbery.
Robbery, in other words, amounts to the commission of a theft in which force is used. If a deadly weapon is used in the commission of the robbery, the charge becomes aggravated robbery.
Either of the following actions can elevate a theft charge to a robbery charge:
Knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly causing someone else to be injured in the course of a theft
Knowingly or intentionally causing someone else to fear being imminently injured or killed in the course of a theft
Robbery is a second-degree felony that can lead to fines of $10,000 and to from 2 to 20 years in prison. Aggravated robbery is still more serious. Any of the following actions – in the commission of a robbery – can lead to a charge of aggravated robbery:
Causing someone else to suffer serious bodily injury
Using or displaying a deadly weapon
Threatening to injure or actually injuring someone else who is either disabled or over the age of 65
Burglary charges in Texas fall into three primary categories:
Entering a building with the intention of committing a felony, theft, or assault
Remaining concealed in a building with the intention of committing a felony, theft, or assault
Entering a building and – successfully or unsuccessfully – committing a felony, theft, or assault
If the building in question is a home or habitation, the burglary charge is a second-degree felony, which can lead to up to $10,000 in fines and a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
If anyone involved in the burglary offense commits a felony other than theft during the burglary, the charge can be elevated to a first-degree felony, which can lead to fines of up to $10,000 and to a sentence of up to life in prison.
Entry into the building or car that is burgled plays an important role in burglary charges, and it is a more complicated element than you may think. When you go into a building or home through a door, the element of entry is clear, but in terms of the law, it’s more complicated than this.
Intruding any part of your body – or any object connected to your body – into the property in question with the intention of committing a theft or assault will suffice.
Burglary charges involve the element of intent, but proving someone’s intent in any given situation can be exceptionally difficult.
While the defendant does not have to actually commit the underlying crime – or even attempt to commit the underlying crime – for the charge of burglary to hold, his or her intent to do so must be established. If the prosecution cannot establish the element of intent, the defendant is likely to be charged with the lesser charge of criminal trespass.
Criminal trespass in Texas is a Class B misdemeanor that can lead to fines of up to $2,000 and sentences of up to 180 days in county jail. If the property in question, however, is someone’s home or habitation, the charge is elevated to a Class A misdemeanor, which can lead to fines of up to $4,000 and to a sentence of up to 1 year in county jail.
Ultimately, criminal trespass amounts to entering or remaining on someone else’s property – knowing that doing so is forbidden.
In the State of Texas, assault charges are grouped into simple assault and aggravated assault.
Simple assault charges refer to intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing someone else to suffer bodily injury or threatening to do so. Physical contact is not necessary for assault charges to apply in the State of Texas. Further, many kinds of physical contact, including those that do not involve violence, can be classified as assault.
For example, when a male employer touches his female employee inappropriately, it can qualify as sexual assault. When a simple assault causes bodily injury, it is generally charged as a Class A misdemeanor, which can lead to fines of up to $4,000 and jail time of up to 1 year.
The threat of bodily injury or the provocation of another person through physical contact, on the other hand, is generally charged as a Class C misdemeanor, which can carry a fine but no jail time.
The assault charge is elevated to aggravated assault when the defendant causes the other person to suffer serious bodily injury or when he or she uses or brandishes a weapon during the assault. A serious bodily injury in this context means that the victim suffers a protracted physical loss or impairment.
Aggravated assault is a second-degree felony, which can carry fines of up to $10,000 and a prison sentence of from 2 to 20 years. There are also circumstances, such as domestic violence, that can elevate the aggravated assault charge to a first-degree felony.
Bringing Your Strongest Defense
If you are charged with any kind of crime in Texas, bringing your strongest defense from the start is always in your best interest, and the surest way to accomplish this is with a trusted criminal defense attorney in your corner. Your attorney will bring all the following essential skills to the table:
Strong working knowledge of the involved court system, the applicable laws, and the Texas criminal justice system overall
A strong working relationship with the prosecution (with a successful track record of obtaining favorable case resolutions)
The ability to help you understand the legal process and make the right decisions for you – in your unique situation – along the way
A dogged determination to gather all the evidence in your case and to build your strongest defense around it
Discuss Your Case with an Experienced Killeen Criminal Defense Attorney Today
Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen, Texas, is a focused criminal defense attorney who dedicates his practice to skillfully protecting the legal rights of clients like you – in focused pursuit of advantageous case outcomes.To learn more, please do not wait to reach out and contact us online or call us at (254) 781-4222 today.