Many have heard the term “felony” in crime dramas, books, and news reports when describing an alleged criminal’s heinous acts. But what exactly is a felony, and what makes it so much more serious than any other type of crime? To answer this question, one must first have a basic understanding of the criminal justice system and the way different types of offenses are classified.
Infractions vs. Misdemeanors vs. Felonies
On the low end of the spectrum, petty offenses such as speeding tickets, jaywalking, and other minor violations are classified as “infractions” and carry only minor fines. Infractions are typically considered to be offenses that are not severe enough to warrant an arrest. Since these offenses do not expose defendants to jail time or even probation, these types of offenses do not result in a jury trial and are often considered to be civil, rather than criminal, matters.
The next category of criminal offenses in Texas are known as misdemeanors. Misdemeanors are low-level crimes which are serious enough to allow for an arrest but are not serious enough to carry a lengthy prison sentence. Commonly charged misdemeanors include first-offense DWI, simple assault, and criminal mischief.
If convicted of a misdemeanor, a defendant can face the following penalties:
- Up to 1 year in jail
Felonies are considered to be the most serious offenses in the Texas criminal justice system. Ranging from sexual assault to capital murder, felony defendants face at least 1 year of incarceration in state prison upon conviction, along with steep fines and the possible loss of liberties such as the right to vote, obtain professional licenses, or live in certain areas. Some felony offenses can expose defendants to possible life imprisonment or even the death penalty. Depending on a defendant’s criminal history, certain misdemeanors can sometimes be escalated to felony status.
If you have been charged with a felony, it is imperative you get in contact with an aggressive criminal defense attorney from The Law Office of Samuel R. Terry immediately to guard yourself against serious consequences. Having earned countless awards, accolades and case victories as a result of his unmatched tenacity and skill, Attorney Terry can give you a fighting chance against the prosecution’s claims and ensure your best interests are protected every step of the way during this difficult time.
Discuss your charges with a Fort Worth criminal defense attorney today – call (817) 756-1817.