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What are the Penalties for a Misdemeanor and Felony in Texas?

Many people have misconceptions about the difference in penalties for a misdemeanor and felony in Texas.  When facing criminal charges for a minor offense, people feel that it is “only a misdemeanor” and there is nothing to worry about. Felony charges instill more fear because a conviction is likely to result in incarceration and being labeled as a felon.

Whether you receive a conviction for a misdemeanor crime or a felony in Texas, you will likely incur high fines, incarceration, and have a criminal record. That is why having an experienced criminal law attorney representing you is important. They will work to get the charges reduced in a plea agreement or have you found not guilty at trial.

When you are facing charges or being offered a plea, you need to understand the criminal classifications and penalties you are facing. Keep reading to learn the legal repercussions you may incur following conviction.What are penalties for a misdemeanor and felony in Texas?


A Class A Misdemeanor conviction may result in incarceration for one year and up to $4,000 in fines. The types of crimes in this classification include:

  • Burglary or theft of property with a value of $500 to $1,500
  • Stalking without bodily injury
  • DWI second offense
  • Assault with bodily injury
  • Possession of 2-4 oz of marijuana

The court of original jurisdiction is a constitutional county court or a county court at law.


A Class B Misdemeanor conviction may result in up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. Crimes within this class include:

  • Theft of property with a value of $20-$500
  • Driving while intoxicated
  • Possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana
  • Making terrorist threats
  • DWI first offense

The court of original jurisdiction is the constitutional county court or county court of law.


When facing a Class C Misdemeanor conviction you may incur a fine of up to $500. Crimes at this level include:

  • Theft of property with a value less than $20
  • Assault without bodily injury
  • Public intoxication
  • DUI as a minor
  • Assault
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia

The justice of peace court holds original jurisdiction.


You may file paperwork for a Class C Misdemeanor expungement 180 days following the date of arrest. You must wait a year to file paperwork for Class A or Class B misdemeanors.


The maximum penalty for a capital felony conviction is life imprisonment or death. This is the most severe type of felony in Texas. The only crime in this class is capital murder pursuant to Texas Penal Code §19.03.

Capital murder is the intentional killing of another person, including:

  • Murdering a court judge
  • Killing a police officer or fireman on duty
  • Murder for hire
  • Murdering a person younger than 15 years old
  • Serial killing or mass murders
  • Killing someone while escaping or attempting to escape from jail
  • Jail inmates killing a prison guard or another inmate while serving a life sentence
  • Killing someone during the course of a crime, including burglary, kidnapping, robbery, arson, or aggravated sexual assault,

The court of original jurisdiction is the district court. There are special court procedures for a capital felony case.

During sentencing, the jury must unanimously vote for the death sentence. If the vote is not unanimous the sentence will be life in prison. If the determination is a death sentence, the case is automatically appealed to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.


The maximum punishment is 5-99 years or life in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Crimes prosecuted as a first-degree felony include:

  • Theft of property of $20,000 or more value
  • Aggravated sexual assault
  • Aggravated robbery
  • Murder

The district court holds original jurisdiction.


Second-degree felony charges have a maximum penalty of 2-20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Examples include:

  • Theft of property with a value of $100,000 to $200,000
  • Aggravated assault
  • Reckless injury to a child
  • Possession of 50-20,000 pounds of marijuana
  • Manslaughter
  • Intoxication manslaughter

If you have a prior 3rd degree or higher felony conviction your sentencing may be enhanced to a first-degree felony under repeat offender rules.

The district court holds original jurisdiction.


Third-degree felony convictions may result in 2-10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Crimes under this classification include:

  • Theft of property with a value of $20,000 to $100,000
  • Drive-by shooting with no injury
  • DWI third offense
  • Intoxication assault
  • Felon in possession of a firearm

The court of original jurisdiction is the district court.

If this is your second felony conviction for a 3rd degree or higher felony, you are a repeat offender and your sentencing may be enhanced to second-degree felony penalties

As a habitual offender with two or more third-degree or higher felony convictions, your sentence may be enhanced to a minimum of 25-99 years in prison.


A state jail felony has a maximum penalty of 180 to 2 years in jail and up to $10,000 in fines. Crimes include:

  • Theft of property with a value of $1,500 to $20,000
  • Debit card or credit card abuse
  • DWI with a child passenger
  • Possession of controlled substance less than 1 gram

The district court holds original jurisdiction.

The Texas Penal Code §12.44 allows a state jail felony to be reduced to a misdemeanor with no jail time.

If you have two or more prior state jail felony convictions, your sentencing may be at the 3rd-degree felony level under habitual offender rules.


It is important to understand the punishment you face following conviction. You must also realize that certain crimes allow enhancement of your sentence.  For instance, if your crime was committed because of bias or prejudice, the penalties may increase to the next highest category pursuant to Texas Penal Code §12.47.

If you commit your crime in a disaster or evacuated area, your sentence may be enhanced in accordance with Texas Penal Code §12.50. The enhancement varies depending on whether your crime is assault, arson, robbery, burgary, burglary of vehicles, criminal trespass, theft, or burglary of coin-operated machines.

Trying to understand criminal charges, penalties, and enhanced sentencing can be confusing. If you are facing criminal charges, having an experienced criminal defense attorney increases your chance of a positive outcome.


When you receive criminal charges, the level of your crime and charges you face determine the original court of jurisdiction. Original jurisdiction refers to the proper court to hear your case when it begins. Depending on the charges or if you appeal, the case may later move to a higher court. The Texas court system was established in 1891 and still uses the same jurisdiction format today. The court levels include local trial courts, county-level courts, and district courts. The Court of Appeals handles appeals from lower trial courts. The Court of Criminal Appeals is the final appellate court for criminal cases.


The biggest mistake you can make is to represent yourself in a criminal case. Understanding the penalties and sentencing for felony charges or a misdemeanor in Texas is only a small portion of the entire criminal process.

When you are facing criminal charges you need Gallian Firm on your side. Contact our office today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. You can reach us online, by calling (214) 432-8860 or emailing us at


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