In Texas, felonies are the most severe level of criminal offenses. This is compared to misdemeanors, which are considered lower-level criminal offenses.
Our state punishes felony crimes with incarceration in state prison or state jail in addition to heavy fines. Texas classifies felony crimes as capital felonies, first-, second, or third-degree felonies, or state jail felonies.
The most serious type of felony — a capital felony — is punishable by death or life imprisonment without parole. The least serious type of felony — a state jail felony — is still punishable by up to two years in state jail and a fine of up to $100.
While jail time and fines may seem like punishment enough, a felony conviction can actually carry farther-reaching consequences. Let’s take a closer look…
The True Consequences of a Felony Conviction
When it comes to felony convictions, the most damaging consequences may not be the sentence itself. The real hardship that follows a felony conviction is the permanent stain it leaves on your criminal record.
With a felony on your record, you are stripped of basic rights, including:
The Right to Vote
After being convicted of a felony in Texas, you lose the right to vote. State law prohibits felons from voting until they complete their sentence, parole, or probation.
The good news? Texas automatically restores your right to vote once you carry out your court-ordered sentence, parole, or probation in full. Keep in mind that you will have to register again and may be required to provide evidence that you have completed your sentence.
The Right to Bear Arms
If you are convicted of a felony, you will likely no longer be allowed to legally carry a firearm. Even though Texas law does permit you to possess a firearm on the premises where you live five years after your felony conviction, federal law makes it illegal to possess a firearm under any circumstances if you’ve been convicted of a felony — unless you have been pardoned.
Since federal law always trumps state laws, it’s practically impossible to purchase a gun by legal means if you have been convicted of a felony. If you do wish to possess a gun, you are advised to speak with an attorney to find out if you are eligible to apply for a pardon.
The Right to Serve on a Jury Panel
In Texas, people convicted of a felony offense lose their right to serve on a jury. You may only have this right restored if you have been pardoned. Again, consulting with an experienced Texas attorney can help you answer any eligibility questions you may have.
Additional Consequences of a Felony Conviction
In addition to impacting your rights, a felony conviction in Texas can have serious repercussions on your professional and personal life.
With a felony conviction, you lose your right to hold public office or any public position without a full pardon. You are also disqualified from holding certain professions if you have a felony conviction.
Still, that’s not all — a felony conviction will stay on your record all your life, which means that anyone can perform a background check and see your criminal history.
This includes potential employers, landlords, college application boards, and practically anyone with access to the internet. Unlike misdemeanor convictions, felony convictions are not eligible to be expunged from your record. Because of this, a felony conviction had severely hinder your ability to find employment, obtain housing, or seek secondary education.
About the Author:
After getting his Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center, Jeff Hampton began practicing criminal law in Texas in 2005. Before becoming a defense attorney, he worked as a prosecutor for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office – experience he uses to anticipate and cast doubt on the arguments that will be used against his clients. Over the course of his career, he has helped countless Texans protect their rights and get the best possible outcome in their criminal cases. He has been named one of the 3 Best DUI Lawyers in Fort Worth, recognized by Expertise, National Trial Lawyers, Avvo, and others, and he is Lead Counsel rated.