Second-Degree Felony Charges in Texas

Texas man in handcuffs arrested for a second-degree felony

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Felonies are serious criminal charges that carry prison time, hefty fines, and challenging social consequences that can directly affect your future. In some cases, second-degree charges can be enhanced to first-degree charges, which are the most serious category of felony and carry the most serious penalties.

If you are facing a second-degree felony charge – or any criminal charge – an experienced Killeen criminal defense attorney is standing by to help.

What Is a Second-Degree Felony?

Felonies are a category of criminal charges that are distinguished from misdemeanors. While a misdemeanor charge is less serious than a felony charge – in the sense that it carries less harsh penalties and fines – it remains a very serious legal matter that should be taken exceptionally seriously.

State jail felonies lie between misdemeanors and felonies – as a kind of bridge between the two – and they carry sentences of up to two years in state jail along with steep fines.

Felonies are the most serious criminal charges in the State of Texas, and they can lead to high fines and lengthy prison sentences. Felony charges are divided into three separate categories that include:

  • Third-degree felonies that carry 2 to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000

  • Second-degree felonies that carry 2 to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000

  • First-degree felonies that carry 5 to 99 years in prison – or a life sentence – and fines of up to $10,000

The social implications for any criminal conviction in Texas may also be more than you bargained for and can include all the following consequences:

  • You may have difficulty obtaining a job and could lose your current position.

  • Your professional licensure could be affected.

  • You may have trouble renting a house or apartment or obtaining a home loan.

  • Your standing in the community can be seriously tarnished.

  • Your ability to further your education can be negatively affected by your inability to obtain a federal student loan. Acceptance into the school of your choice and student housing can also be affected.

  • You’ll lose your right to own or possess a gun and the right to vote.

It’s important to note that a second-degree felony charge can’t be expunged, which means a conviction will remain a matter of public record. Potential landlords, current and potential employers, banks, and anyone else can access your criminal record.

While a second-degree felony is in the mid-range when it comes to felony charges, it’s one of the most serious criminal charges you can face, and bringing your strongest defense is paramount. Consult with a dedicated Killeen criminal defense attorney as soon as it’s possible to do so.

Some Second-Degree Felony Charges Are Eligible for Probation

Under certain circumstances, a judge can order probation instead of a prison sentence for a second-degree felony. In Texas, probation is called community supervision, and it involves a combination of the following exacting requirements:

  • Meeting with a probation officer regularly

  • Informing the state whenever there’s a change of address

  • Submitting to and passing alcohol tests, drug tests, or both

  • Performing a specific number of community service hours

  • Maintaining a steady job

  • Paying restitution to the victim

Eligibility for probation for a second-degree felony charge doesn’t apply to sentences of 10 years or longer or to specific crimes known as “3G offenses.” While 3G offenses are no longer found in the corresponding section of the Code of Criminal Procedures, the name stuck. The term applies to all of the following types of crimes:

  • Aggravated robbery

  • Burglary

  • Human trafficking

  • Sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault

  • Murder

Examples of Second-Degree Felonies in Texas

Second-degree felony charges relate to many different crimes in the State of Texas, but some are more common than others. If you are facing criminal charges for any of these crimes, contact a Killeen criminal defense lawyer right away to discuss your best path forward.

Aggravated Assault

The charge of aggravated assault relates to knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly causing someone else to suffer serious bodily harm – or using or brandishing a gun or another kind of deadly weapon – in the commission of an assault.

Generally, the charge of aggravated assault is a second-degree felony, which carries 2 to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000. Any of the following factors can elevate the charge to a first-degree felony:

  • A deadly weapon was used in the commission of the assault, and as a result, the victim suffered serious bodily harm.

  • The victim of the assault was a public servant who was acting in that capacity at the time the crime was committed.

  • The assault was a form of retaliation against an informant, a witness to a crime, or someone who was reporting a crime.

  • The assault involved shooting a firearm from inside one vehicle at another vehicle, a home, or a building with reckless disregard in relation to occupancy and in relation to causing serious bodily injury in the process.

First-degree felony charges come with prison sentences of 5 to 99 years and fines of up to $10,000.

Sexual Assault

In Texas, nonconsensual intercourse with another person is the crime of sexual assault, commonly referred to as rape, which is a second-degree felony. The charge of sexual assault applies whether the two people are strangers, are involved in a romantic relationship, or are anything in between. In other words, forcing anyone to have sex without consent is sexual assault.

A sexual assault charge can be enhanced to a first-degree felony charge when an aggravating factor is present. Such factors can include the victim’s age or the threat of causing physical harm. If the victim is actually harmed in the commission of the sexual assault, the first-degree felony charge also applies.

Aggravated Kidnapping

Aggravated kidnapping refers to the crime of intentionally or knowingly abducting someone else with the intention of doing one of the following actions:

  • Holding the victim for ransom or reward

  • Inflicting bodily injury on the victim or sexually abusing him or her

  • Terrorizing the victim or someone else

  • Using the victim as a hostage or shield

  • Facilitating the commission of a felony

  • Facilitating flight after committing or attempting to commit a felony

  • Interfering with the performance of any political or governmental function

The act is also classified as aggravated kidnapping when it involves using or exhibiting a gun or another kind of deadly weapon in the course of intentionally or knowingly abducting another person.

Aggravated assault can only be charged as a second-degree felony if the accused can prove that he or she ultimately released the kidnap victim voluntarily in a safe place. Otherwise, the charge is a first-degree felony, and the penalties are enhanced accordingly.

It’s important to point out here that a deadly weapon doesn’t have to be a firearm. Anything that can be used to kill or seriously injure another person fits the bill, and all the following can be classified as deadly weapons when used in the appropriate capacity:

  • An ax or shank

  • A car

  • A bat

  • A large rock

  • One’s hands and feet

  • A rope

Even a shoe can qualify. In other words, the aggravating factor of a deadly weapon is more inclusive than you may realize.

Second-Degree Stalking

The charge of stalking is always serious in Texas, but certain factors can elevate the crime to a second-degree felony. Stalking refers to engaging in a course of conduct that is directed specifically at another person when the perpetrator knows or reasonably should know that such actions will cause the victim to experience any of the following effects:

  • Fearing for his or her own safety

  • Fearing for the safety of someone else

  • Suffering emotional distress

Staking can take a wide range of forms that include all the following behaviors:

  • Following the other person

  • Hanging out where the other person is expected to be or to come

  • Monitoring the other person’s comings and goings

  • Repeatedly contacting the other person via phone, letter, or electronic means

  • Interfering with the other person’s property

  • Threatening the other person

While a first stalking offense is generally a third-degree felony, a prior conviction for stalking or a similar crime can elevate the charge to a second-degree felony. The following factors can be used to enhance a stalking charge to a second-degree felony:

  • The victim is a minor, an elderly person, a public servant, or a disabled person.

  • The stalking behavior involved an aggravating factor, such as the use of a deadly weapon.

Theft

The charge of theft refers to intentionally or knowingly taking something that belongs to someone else with the intention of permanently depriving him or her of the property. Shoplifting, for example, is a form of theft. Theft charges are based on the value of the stolen property, and the charge is a second-degree felony when that value is from $150,000 to $300,000.

Bribery

The charge of bribery in Texas relates only to offering financial incentives to or soliciting financial incentives from employees in the public sector, and this is true even if the intended bribe recipient wasn’t in office when the bribe was made. While private sector dealings are not above criminal charges, they don’t fall under the charge of bribery in the State of Texas.

Arson

The charge of arson relates to starting a fire, and it applies even if the fire doesn’t continue after ignition and even when the precipitating act doesn’t lead to a fiery explosion, damage, or destruction.

For the charge of arson to apply, the accused must have deliberately started the fire with the intention of doing damage or causing harm – or must have started the fire recklessly, which basically means without concern for the safety of others or for the safety of their property.

While arson charges are generally second-degree felonies, certain factors can enhance the charge. When a fire is started intentionally and it causes someone else to suffer either bodily injury or death, or when a fire is specifically intended to destroy a home or place of worship, the charge can be brought as a first-degree felony.

Murder

While Texas doesn’t classify murder as first-degree or second-degree the way many other states do, there are instances when murder charges are brought as second-degree felonies – rather than first-degree felonies.

Second-degree felony charges can be brought when the murder is committed as a byproduct of another wrongful act (such as when the accused’s recklessness leads to someone’s death) or when the murder is caused during the commission of another crime. Murder that is committed in the heat of the moment or in the heat of passion can also lead to second-degree murder charges.

Attempted First-Degree Felony

A failed attempt to commit a first-degree felony can lead to a second-degree felony charge. Murder is generally a first-degree felony in Texas, but attempting to murder someone and failing to do so is likely to carry a second-degree felony charge.

Turn to an Experienced Killeen Criminal Defense Attorney for the Help You Need

While every criminal charge is a serious criminal charge, second-degree felony charges carry especially harsh penalties and can alter the course of your future. If a second-degree felony charge has been levied against you, it’s time to seek the professional legal guidance you need.

Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard – proudly serving Killeen, Texas – is a seasoned criminal defense lawyer with more than 20 years of focused experience fiercely defending the legal rights of valued clients like you – in focused pursuit of favorable case resolutions.

Our skilled legal team is on your side and here to help, so please don’t put off reaching out to contact us online or call us at (254) 781-4222 to schedule your FREE consultation and learn more about what we can do for you today.

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