What is the Difference Between a Felony and a Misdemeanor in TX?

Most criminal offenses in Texas are classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony, and the consequences for each are vastly different.

Criminal offenses in Texas are classified as minor offenses, misdemeanors, and felonies. Of these three, misdemeanors and felonies are the most serious and can result in jail or prison sentences, as well as high fines and other consequences. It is important to understand the differences between misdemeanors and felonies, as well as the penalties you may face if charged with either. Below, our Austin criminal defense lawyer explains further.

What is a Misdemeanor?

Misdemeanor charges at both the state and federal levels are generally non-violent offenses. Non-violent crimes are still against the law, but they do not cause the alleged victim any harm. Fines, restitution, community service, court-ordered programs, and jail time that does not exceed one year are common penalties for those convicted of a misdemeanor charge.

Typically, jail time associated with misdemeanors ranges from several days to many months. The sentence will depend on into which class the misdemeanor falls. Misdemeanors are classed as either Class A, Class B, or Class C misdemeanors. Common examples of misdemeanor offenses are as follows:

  • First and second DWI offenses
  • Shoplifting and theft over $100
  • Unlawful carrying of a weapon
  • Unlawful restraint
  • Carjacking
  • Prostitution
  • Indecent exposure
  • Minor drug possession
  • Failure to pay child support
  • Lying to a police officer
  • Harassment
  • Jumping bail

The least minor misdemeanor offense in Texas is Class C. These offenses are punishable by a maximum fine of $500 only. Traffic citations such as reckless driving and speeding are among the most common Class C misdemeanor.

What is a Felony?

Felony charges in Texas cover the most serious types of criminal offenses. Felony crimes are those that cause physical injury or death to another person or a group of people. Criminal offenses that cause great financial harm are also usually classified as felonies. The penalties for a felony conviction are far greater than those for a misdemeanor. Prison time, as opposed to jail time, is also part of a felony sentence. The minimum amount of time someone will spend in prison after being convicted of a felony is two years. The fines for felony charges are also much higher than those for misdemeanors.

Some of the most common felony offenses are as follows:

Contact Our Austin TX Defense Lawyers in Austin About Your Charges

If you or someone you love has been charged with a misdemeanor or felony in Texas, you need the strongest defense possible. At Granger and Mueller PC, our Austin criminal defense lawyers can provide it so you have the best chance of beating the charges and protecting your future. Call us now at 512-474-9999 or contact us online to speak with one of our knowledgeable attorneys.