Frequently Asked Questions
The information on punishment is based on first time offenders. Punishment ranges may be enhanced and altered depending on ones unique criminal history. Punishments for your specific case must be evaluated on an individual basis after consulting a qualified attorney.
What is the Punishment for a Capital Felony?
If you are found guilty of a capital felony in a case where the State of Texas seeks the death penalty the punishment will be life without parole or death. If you are found guilty of a capital felony in a case which the state does not seek the death penalty the punishment will be either life, or life without parole.
What is the Punishment for a First Degree Felony?
If you are found guilty of a felony of the first degree the punishment will be either life or for any term of not more than 99 years or less than 5 years. Additionally, you may be punished by a fine not to exceed $10,000.
What is the Punishment for a Second Degree Felony?
If you are found guilty of a felony of the second degree the punishment will be imprisonment for any term of not more than 20 years or less than 2 years. Additionally, you may be punished by a fine not to exceed $10,000.
What is the Punishment for a Third Degree Felony?
If you are found guilty of a felony of the third degree the punishment will be imprisonment for any term of not more than 10 years or less than 2 years. Additionally, you may be punished by a fine not to exceed $10,000.
What is the Punishment for State Jail Felony?
If you are found guilty of a state jail felony the punishment will imprisonment in a state jail for any term of not more than two years or less than 180 days. Additionally, you may be punished by a fine not to exceed $10,000. However, under certain circumstances an individual found guilty of a state jail felony may be punished for a third degree felony.
What is the Punishment for a Class A Misdemeanor?
If you are found guilty of a Class A misdemeanor the punishment will be either a fine not to exceed $4,000, confinement in jail for a term not to exceed one year, or both.
What is the Punishment for a Class B Misdemeanor?
If you are found guilty of a Class B misdemeanor the punishment will be a fine not to exceed $2,000, confinement in jail for a term not to exceed 180 days, or both.
What is the Punishment for a Class C Misdemeanor?
If you are found guilty of a Class C misdemeanor the punishment will be a fine not to exceed $500.
I have other criminal convictions in my past, will that alter my the punishment I'm facing?
Potentially. Prior convictions may enhance and alter the punishment your are facing. How your punishment may be altered depends on your unique case situation, and should be discussed with you by a competent criminal defense attorney.
The Justice Process
Your journey though the criminal justice system will depend on your unique circumstance. Below are generalities, and your case should be discussed individually with an attorney.
I've been arrested, what happens next?
Depending on what you're charged with, you may have to spend some time in jail. Once you are eligible you may post bail. Sometimes, a person may be held without bail for an extended period of time. If this is the case for someone you know contact a criminal defense attorney immediately.
I'm out on bond, when and what is arraignment?
Your arraignment will take place before a magistrate shortly after you've been arrested. At your arraignment a magistrate will inform you of the charges brought against you. The style and method of arraignments vary from county to county, however, all arraignments will inform you of what type of charge you will be facing.
I've been arraigned, now what?
By this point, if you do not have an attorney - get one. Generally during this time you have three choices at each court appearance: Reset, Plea, or set your case for Trial. However, this time period is also crucial in developing your case. While the legal strategy will vary depending on each unique situation, this pretrial phase allows your attorney to investigate the charges brought against you. Your attorney will be filing motions on your behalf to not only get a better idea of the States evidence against you, but also to try to get you in the best position for either a well negotiated plea deal or trial.
I took a plea deal, when do I start?
Once a plea is entered and recorded, you'll be sentenced to whatever the terms of your deal were. Plea deals are often composed of either jail time, probation, deferred adjudication, or fines, and conditions relevant to your charge. Sentencing sometimes takes place the same day your plea is entered, or at another court date down the road.
I don't want to deal, how does trial work?
A trial can generally be broken up into two phases, the guilt/innocence phase and the punishment phase. During the guilt/innocence phase the State has the burden to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. In other words, the State must prove each and every element of the charge beyond a reasonable doubt in order for your liberty and freedom to be taken away. Trials can either be in front of a jury or by a judge. In a jury trial, the jury is the finder of fact, and the judge is the finder of law. In a bench trial, the judge is both the finder of fact and of law. If you are found guilty, the second phase - the punishment phase - begins. At the punishment phase you have the opportunity to put on evidence to mitigate your sentence, however, victims of your crime will also be allowed to put on evidence to show why you should get the max.
I've lost at trial, is there anything I can do?
Yes. You have a right to appeal your conviction. At your appeal, your lawyer will examine the trial against you, and attempt to find violations and errors which led to your conviction. A brief is then submitted on your behalf, and may be argued in front of a panel of judges.
I lost my trial, I lost my appeal, what now?
In some circumstances you may be able to petition the court to re-examine your case. You'll need a writ lawyer to help you out. Give me a call if you know someone in this situation who needs help.
What's the difference between a DWI and DUI?
In Texas, a DUI is for minor offenders. An adult is charged with DWI, rather than a DUI. If you've been charged with either offense, contact an attorney immediately.
If I get pulled over, can I refuse to take any tests without a penalty?
In Texas, you can refuse to take any field sobriety test without a penalty. Remember, if you do decide to take a field sobriety test everything you do may be on camera. However, Texas has what's called an "implied consent law" for things like breath tests. If you refuse a breath test, your license will be subject to revocation.
I refused to take a breath test, can I save my license?
In Texas, you have 15 days from the date of your arrest to schedule an ALR hearing. At this hearing your lawyer will challenge the suspension of your license, and you may be able to save it. If you or someone you know is has been recently arrested for DWI, contact an attorney immediately, as their license may be in jeopardy.
What are the consequences for a DWI?
The penalties for DWI will vary depending on your criminal history, but generally, a first time offender is looking at a Class B misdemeanor. Additionally, DWI offenders face the potential loss of their license, an annual surcharge, conditions, and fines.
How can a DWI attorney help me if I've been charged with a DWI?
A DWI attorney will not only try to save your license, but also do their best to keep you out of jail, and at best, get an acquittal at trial or get the cased dismissed. They'll do this by investigating and subpoenaing evidence and witnesses, and preparing intensely for both the ALR hearing and the DWI trial. A DWI can have drastic effects in your professional and personal life, and nothing should be spared in your defense. If you or someone you know has been charged with a DWI, contact an attorney today.
How much do you cost?
Fees are adjusted depending on the level of the offense and the type of charge. Flat fees and hourly rates are available. Different offenses require different types of investigatory work, and therefore legal rates will vary.