In the state of Texas, we divide felonies into four separate subcategories, ranked in order from least serious to most as follows: a state jail felony, third-degree felony, second-degree felony, and finally a first-degree felony. Today we’ll discuss second-degree felonies, their potential punishments, and what qualifies as a second-degree felony.
What is a Second Degree Felony in Texas?
In Texas, a second-degree felony is considered quite severe and has a punishment range of no more than 20 years and no less than two years in the Texas department of corrections. In addition, a person adjudicated guilty of a second-degree felony may be punished by a fine of up to $10,000.
Many people have heard of a “three-strikes rule.” This term originates from California and surmises that if you have two previous felony convictions and you get a third felony, three strikes, and you’re out. You’re going to prison for a very long time. In Texas, we don’t have the three-strikes rule. However, previous felony convictions can enhance the punishment range if you are charged with a new felony offense.
Repeat Felony Offenders in Texas
Most jurisdictions in the state of Texas do handle repeat felony offenders with a heavy hand. While you may be eligible for probation on a second-degree felony case, prior convictions for felony offenses can prevent the option of probation in many circumstances, essentially tying the judge’s hands.
Specifically, the Texas Penal Code section 12.46 states that if you are charged with a second-degree felony offense and previously had a felony conviction, the state will enhance the charges to a first-degree felony. This enhancement makes you subject to a first-degree punishment range of a minimum of five years to a maximum of 99 years or potentially increases the minimum punishment to 15 years on a first-degree felony.
Examples of 2nd Degree Felonies
In the state of Texas, second-degree felonies include (but are not limited to):
- manslaughter under Penal Code section 19.04
- aggravated assault under Penal Code section 22.02
- robbery under Penal Code section 29.02
- burglary of a building
- theft between $100 and $200,000
- injury to a child
- indecency with a child
- attempted murder
- intoxicated manslaughter
- and various drug possession charges when you get to a certain weight.
What are the Penalties for a Second Degree Felony in Texas?
As previously mentioned, certain second-degree felony offenses in the state of Texas are eligible for probation, but prior felony convictions can affect the defendant’s eligibility to receive probation. In these circumstances, a judge cannot give probation after a guilty verdict on a second-degree felony if the defendant has a prior felony conviction.
It’s essential to have a lawyer who understands the differences of when probation is an option from the prosecutor, judge, or jury. The answers are layered and can make it challenging to know if you are eligible.
Many people also incorrectly assume that a second-degree felony in Texas means going to prison is their only option. The law office of James Gill routinely handles second-degree felonies with favorable outcomes that don’t include TDC jail sentences and can often reduce the charge out of the felony range.
Hire Austin Criminal Lawyer, James Gill, for 2nd Degree Felonies in Texas
If you don’t hire an experienced criminal defense attorney, you’re quite literally gambling with your freedom! Make sure you hire an experienced defense lawyer like Austin Criminal Lawyer James Gill, who can help you navigate this complex area of law.
If you are charged with a felony, it may potentially affect your ability to:
- ever own a gun or ammunition
- live in certain areas of town
- obtain credit
- purchase a house
- obtain professional licenses, and
- multiple forms of employment
Everyone charged with a felony should strongly consider having a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney to achieve the best possible results. Just because you were arrested and charged with a second-degree felony does not mean you should give up hope. Contact the law office of James Gill, who has nearly 20 years of experience under his belt, to help you to navigate out of this potentially life-changing and challenging situation.