Crimes are broadly classified into two parts depending upon the severity of the resulting penalties – Misdemeanors and Felonies. Conviction in cases of felonies can lead to imprisonment as well as a hefty fine, whereas a conviction for a misdemeanor doesn’t generally lead to jail time. Both felonies and misdemeanors are further classified into degrees, based on the seriousness of the crime. The lower the degree, the higher the punishment will be.
This article will focus on third-degree felonies that can result in 2 to 10 years of imprisonment and up to $10,000 of fine.
What is a Third-Degree Felony?
In Texas, felonies are categorized into capital felonies, first-degree felonies, second-degree felonies, third-degree felonies, and state jail felonies. Third degree felonies carry higher penalties than state jail felonies, but lower than the other felonies.
Penalty for a felony of the third degree is stated under § 12.34 of the Texas Penal Code as –
“… An individual adjudged guilty of a felony of the third degree shall be punished in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for any term of not more than 10 years or less than 2 years. In addition to imprisonment, an individual adjudged guilty of a third-degree felony may be punished by a fine not to exceed $10,000.”
So, to answer the question, how serious is a third degree felony – a conviction for a 3rd degree felony in Texas can lead to pretty serious consequences. In fact, the effect of a conviction can last for a lifetime because it will leave a permanent dent in your criminal record. This can adversely affect your chances of getting a good job or even an apartment.
Examples of a Third Degree Felony
If you or your loved ones have been charged with a 3rd degree felony in Texas, you need to take immediate action. If not dealt with properly, a conviction can lead to imprisonment of up to 10 years and a large amount of fine. This penalty can increase significantly if certain aggravating factors are found surrounding the circumstances of the crime. And even after the penalty has been duly served an ex-convict of a 3rd degree felony loses several rights in the state of Texas.
A convict may not be allowed to vote, own or possess firearms, get student loans, and can be discriminated against in several other scenarios depending on the offenses. Therefore, it becomes extremely imperative that you hire an experienced Austin Criminal Defense Lawyer like James Gill to represent you if you have been charged with a 3rd degree felony in Texas.
Here are a few examples of crimes that are categorized as a 3rd degree felony in Texas.
- Kidnapping (Texas Penal Code §20.03(a), (c))
- Criminal Mischief (pecuniary loss of $30,000 or more but less than $150,000) (Texas Penal Code §28.03(a), (b)(5))
- Theft of Service (service is $30,000 or more but less than $150,000) (Texas Penal Code §31.04(a), (e)(5))
- Intoxication Assault (Texas Penal Code §49.07(a), (c))
- Driving While Intoxicated with a Child Passenger (Texas Penal Code §49.045)
Types of Felonies
Felonies are categorized into 5 types depending on the severity of the resulting punishment. But the demarcation is often not fixed, and aggravating factors and repeat convictions can lead to enhancement of penalties and jump in the degree.
- Capital Felony – The punishment can be the death penalty or life imprisonment without parole.
- First Degree Felony – Punishment can be minimum imprisonment for 5 years to a maximum of 99 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Second Degree Felony – Punishment includes imprisonment for up to 20 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Third Degree Felony – Punishment includes imprisonment for up to 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
- State Jail Felony – Imprisonment in a Texas state jail for 180 days to 2 years and a fine not exceeding $2,000.
Habitual and Repeat Felony Offenders
Habitual and repeat offenders are not excused in Texas, and they often face extreme actions. During the trial for a felony, if it is found that the defendant has previous felony crime convictions (other than state jail felony), they shall be punished with a second degree felony penalty if convicted.
Furthermore, the Texas three strikes law ensures that if the defendant had been convicted for certain felonies twice before, their punishment will be increased to a minimum of 25 years of imprisonment.
Therefore, habitual and repeat offenders can receive a higher degree of punishment for a crime that is technically lower in degree. A few examples of the serious offenses that can lead to the implementation of the Texas three-strikes law are –
- Sexual offenses including rape and child molestation
- Murder and manslaughter
- Weapon offenses
- Domestic violence
Frequently Asked Questions About Third Degree Felonies in Texas
There is a lot of confusion surrounding 3rd degree felony Texas. We at the Law Offices of James Gill receive numerous queries on the topic every day, so we decided to compile the answers to the most common ones for your convenience.
Is a Third Degree Penalty the Worst?
Getting convicted on a third-degree penalty is the worst punishment in the state of Texas, but it can lead to imprisonment of up to 10 years, a fine of up to $10,000, and a permanent criminal record. So, you should reach out to an Austin Criminal Attorney immediately to avoid the harsh punishment.
Can You Get Probation for a Third Degree Felony?
Yes, barring the crimes listed under Article 42A.054 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, a judge can sentence a person convicted of a third degree offense with probation instead of imprisonment. Unlike parole, probation does not require any jail time and comes with a list of rules that the convict has to strictly follow to avoid prison.
What are the Penalties for a 3rd Degree Felony in Texas?
A conviction of a 3rd degree felony in Texas can lead to a minimum imprisonment of 2 years and a maximum of 10 years. You may also have to pay a fine of up to $10,000. The penalty can also increase drastically if aggravating factors are found during the trial, or if the defendant was previously convicted of felony crimes.
Can a Third Degree Felony be Reduced in Texas?
Yes, getting convicted of a 3rd degree felony charge can be reduced. Your lawyer can help you find underlying holes in the prosecutor’s case against you during the plea bargain. For eg, the evidence could have been collected illegally, or the arrest wasn’t made properly. In any case, your best bet is to contact a reliable attorney to get you the best possible solution.
I Was Charged with a Felony, is My Life Over?
A felony charge can lead to serious consequences in the state of Texas. But that doesn’t mean you can’t recover from it. If you hire an Austin Criminal Attorney on time and let them handle your case, you can get out of the situation with minimum damage, and your charges may get cleared altogether.
For 3rd Degree Felonies in Texas, Contact Austin Criminal Lawyer James Gill
A conviction for a third degree felony can alter the course of your life completely. Even after serving the sentence and the fine, things will never be the same. Therefore, you need to act quickly but smartly. You can get out of the situation with minimal or no damage if you hire the right lawyer from the get-go. One of the top criminal lawyers in Austin, TX, James Gill has countless years of experience under his belt, defending those facing felony charges in Texas. So, if you or your loved one are facing felony charges, your best move would be to get in touch with us.
Call today to schedule this consultation at 512-448-4560 or fill out our contact form online. The Law Offices of James Gill, PLLC serves all of Austin, Westlake, Kyle, Buda, San Marcos, and the surrounding Texas communities