Texas Crime Classifications

The Texas Legislature designates criminal offenses in our state's Penal Code as misdemeanors or felonies. Based on the relative seriousness of the offense, misdemeanors and felonies are classified into the categories shown below:

MISDEMEANORS

Category Punishment Range

Class A up to 1 year in a county jail and/or a fine up to $4,000

Class B up to 180 days in a county jail and/or a fine up to $2,000

Class C fine not to exceed $500

FELONIES

Category Punishment Range

Capital death by lethal injection or life imprisonment

First Degree 5-99 year or life in prison; may also be fined up to $10,000

Second Degree 2-20 years in prison; may also be fined up to $10,000

Third Degree 2-10 years in prison; may also be fined up to $10,000

State Jail (Fourth Degree) 180 days to 2 years in state jail, may also be fined up to $10,000; or court may impose Class A misdemeanor punishment

Misdemeanor and felony drug offenses are classified in the Texas Health and Safety Code based on factors including: (1) the type and amount of drug; and (2) whether the defendant manufactured, delivered, or possessed the drug. Increased punishments are provided for certain drug offenses occurring in drug-free zones, such as school zones. Misdemeanor and felony theft offenses are classified in section 31.03 and 31.04 of the Texas Penal Code based upon the amount of pecuniary loss.

Any criminal attempt conviction is punishable as one category lower than the offense attempted. Any criminal conspiracy is punishable as one category lower than the most serious felony that is the object of the conspiracy. Criminal solicitation is a first degree felony if the offense solicited is a capital felony; a second degree felony if the offense solicited is a first degree felony.

Sections 12.42 and 12.43 of the Penal Code provide for enhanced (increased) punishments for repeat and habitual offenders. There are also enhanced (increased) punishment ranges for individuals who are convicted of intentionally selecting victims because of the bias or prejudice against a group.

Probation (community supervision) is generally a possible sentencing option for most crimes with the exception of a capital felony. Below are charts describing the probation (community supervision) options for most felonies and misdemeanors:

FELONY

OFFENSE

SENTENCING ALTERNATIVES

Capital PenC § 12.31

Ineligible for community supervision

When minimum punishment exceeds 10 years

Up 10 years of differed adjudication. See Cabezas v. State, 848 S.W.2d 693, 695 (Tex.Crim.App.1993)

1st degree Felony PenC § 12.32

5-10 years of post-conviction community supervision. CCP art. 42.12 § 3 (b)
Up to 10 years of deferred adjudication. CCP art. 42.2 § 5 (a)
Up to 180 days in county jail as a condition. CCP art. 42.12 § 12 (a)
60 - 120 days in prison with affirmative finding that firearm was used or exhibited. CCP art. 42.12 3g(b)

CCP art. 42.12 § 13B(b) offenses* (sexual offenses against children)

• 5-10 years of community supervision. CCP art. 42.12 §3(f)
• The Judge shall establish child safety zones. CCP art. 42.12 § 13B(a)
• Sex offender counseling as a condition. CCP art. 42.12 § 13B(a)(2)
• 60-120 days in prison with affirmative finding that firearm was used or exhibited. CCP art. 42.12 §3g(b)

2nd degree felony PenC § 12.33

2-10 years of post-conviction community supervision. CCP art. 42.12 § 3(b)
Up to 10 years of deferred adjudication. CCP art. 42.12 § 5(a)
Up to 180 days in county jail as a condition CCP art. 42.12 § 12(a)

3rd felony PenC § 12.34

2-10 years of post-conviction community supervision. CCP art. 42.12 §3(b)
Up to 10 years of deferred adjudication. CCP art. 42.12 §5(a)
Up to 180 days in county jail as a condition. CCP art. 42.12 §12(a)

State jail felony PenC § 12.35

2-5 years of post-conviction community supervision (court can extend up to 10 years). CCP art. 42.12 § 15(b)
Up to 10 years of deferred adjudication. CCP art. 42.12 §5(a)
Up to 180 days in county jail as a condition. CCP art. 42.12 §12(a)
90-180 days in state jail. CCP art. 42.12 § 15(d)
90 days - 1 year in state jail for certain drug offenses. CCP art. 42.12 §15(d)
90-180 days in state jail following violation of supervision conditions. CCP art. 42.12 §15(e)
Judge probates sentence on jury's recommendation. CCP art. 42.12 §4(a) (unless suspension of the imposition of the sentence occurs automatically under CCP art. 42.12 §(a). CCP art. 42.12 §4(d)(2))

MISDEMEANOR

OFFENSE

SENTENCING ALTERNATIVES

Class A Misdemeanor PenC § 12.21

• Up to 2 years of post-conviction community supervision. CCP art. 42.12 §3(c)
• Up to 2 years deferred adjudication. CCP art. 42.12 §5(a)
• Court can extend community supervision three additional years. CCP art. 42.12 § 22(c) (court may extend community supervision an additional two years beyond the three years if defendant does not pay fine, cost, or restitution)
• Up to 30 days in county jail as a condition. CCP art. 42.12 § (a)

Class B Misdemeanor PenC § 12.22

• Up to 2 years of post-conviction community supervision. CCP art. 42.12 §3(c)
• Up to 2 years deferred adjudication. CCP art. 42.12 §5(a)
• Court can extend community supervision three additional years. CCP art. 42.12 § 22(c) (court may extend community supervision an additional two years beyond the three years if defendant does not pay fine, cost, or restitution)
• Up to 30 days in county jail as a condition. CCP art. 42.12 § (a)

Fine-only misdemeanor

• Up to 180 days of deferred disposition. CCP art. 45.051(a)
• Court can require compliance with reasonable conditions. CCP art. 45.051(b)


Deferred adjudication is NOT a final finding of guilt and it is NOT a final conviction. Deferred Adjudication is a plea bargain agreement between a defendant, and a Texas Criminal Court in which formal judgment is withheld or "deferred" pending the outcome of the probation period. If an individual is given deferred adjudication and he or she successfully completes the probation and conditions assigned by the court, the charges are dismissed. In order to obtain DA from the court, the defendant MUST either enter a plea of "guilty" or a plea of "no contest". Essentially, both pleas mean the same thing; with the exception being that a plea of "no contest" has certain advantages as far as protecting the defendant against any subsequent civil litigation proceedings related to the original crime he/she was originally charged with.

The actual sentencing of individuals convicted of crimes in Texas courts can be both confusing and severe. A good criminal defense lawyers must be well-versed in Texas sentencing law and procedure to ensure that the client gets the best result possible. While the ultimate goal is to prevent our clients from being convicted, a good lawyer must always factor possible sentencing outcomes into plea-bargaining, trial strategy, and all advice given to a client. The legal professionals at the Law Offices of Roderick C. White are both knowledgeable and experienced in the Texas sentencing law and procedure. We are ready to aggressively use this knowledge and experience to help you or your loved one.