The justice system puts crimes into two categories: misdemeanor and felony. For the most part, misdemeanors are less serious crimes that are usually penalized by jail sentences. Felonies, on the other hand, can result in a prison sentence. It’s a subtle distinction, but a distinction, nonetheless.
The exception in Texas is a state jail felony. While they may not be viewed as serious in the eyes of the law, they can still have a big impact on your life. Here is what a state jail felony is in Texas and all you need to know about it.
What is a Texas State Jail Felony?
In Texas, crimes are labeled felonies based on their severity. According to the law, there are four different levels of felony crimes and each degree has its own penalties and sentences.
One type of felony in Texas that isn’t classified under the system of degrees but also doesn’t qualify as a misdemeanor? A state jail felony. It’s an offense that carries the label of a felony but won’t result in prison time.
State Jail Felony Offenses in Texas
There are several crimes that can qualify as a state jail penalty in Texas. Some of the most common include:
- Identity theft
- DWI with a passenger under age 16
- Criminally negligent homicide
- Check forgery
- Theft of items valued at $1,500 and $20,000
- Animal cruelty
- Interfering with child custody
- Credit card fraud
- Evading arrest with a vehicle
- Burglarizing a building
- False alarm or false report
- Improper visual recording or photography
Texas Penalties for a State Jail Felony
According to the Texas penal code, someone found guilty of a state jail felony can be sentenced to up to two years in jail and pay fines up to $10,000. The lowest sentence that someone found guilty of a state jail felony can serve is 180 days in jail.
Enhancements for State Jail Felonies in Texas
There are some factors that can reclassify a state jail felony. If one of these factors occurred when the crime was being perpetrated, then the crime can be charged as a third-degree felony:
The use or exhibition of a deadly weapon when committing the offense, when an attempt was made to escape the commission of the offense or was aware a deadly weapon was going to be used during the crime as a party to it
Prior Felony Convictions
If you’ve been convicted of prior felonies, such as:
- Compelling prostitution
- Human trafficking
- Sexual performance by a child
- Continuous sexual abuse of a child
- Aggravated robbery
- Aggravated kidnapping
- Injury to a child, elderly person, or disabled person
- Indecency with a child
- Aggravated sexual assault
- Sexual assault
If these factors result in a third-degree felony charge, then that is punished by up to 10 years in jail and $10,000 in fines.
State Jail Felonies for Repeat Offenders
If the state of Texas deems someone a habitual or repeat offender, then that means they have been found guilty of two prior state felonies. In this case, a new state felony charge can be classified as a third-degree felony which is punishable by:
- Fines up to $10,000
- Minimum of two years in prison and a maximum of 10 years
State jail felonies may not seem as if they’re a big deal on the surface, but once you probe deeper you can see that they’re serious.
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.