This is a question which a person in the State of Texas asked recently on an online legal forum. The subject obviously resided in Texas at the time that the Felony in question was committed, and the subject is also aware of the differences in the Felony categories.
If this is new information to you, the reader, this is a good opportunity for us to break these “degrees” down, so that they may be better understood.
Whether or not the act is committed and charged in the state of Texas—or anywhere in the U.S.—the first thing to be determined is the degree of conviction.
Are Felonies As High Up As You Can Go On The Scale of Convictions?
Felonies, as a class, are the most serious of offenses in the U.S. As classified, they are a notch above misdemeanors in gravity, and include public intoxication, indecent exposure and petty theft.
Felonies, whether violent or non-violent, also differ from the category of juvenile crimes.
In essence, felonies as a grouping include all crimes committed in which there was either an intent, or an actual occurrence, involving violation of criminal laws.
By virtue of an offense having fallen under that category, the penalty will automatically include at least one year incarceration, and a considerable fine.
Additionally, at the time that such a crime is addressed by the courts, the person who is so charged will lose certain rights which every American is entitled to. These include the right to serve in the military, the right to bear arms and the right to vote.
Classifications Differ in States and on the Federal Level
If the crime committed has been tied to a Federal law, and involves a national interest—such as counterfeiting and crimes that cross state lines and involve more than one state—that crime falls under the Federal jurisdiction, and would likely be heard in the Federal courts.
Degrees of Felony Charges – State and Federal
There are certain levels, or categories, of such crimes, and when these crimes are tried in the states, there is one set of classifications, which usually include Class A or Class 1 or First Degree. The tiers move on from there to Class B or Class 2 or Second Degree and, finally, to Class C or Class3 or Third Degree.
Especially sordid or “heavy” crimes have a category unto their own, and do not fall under these niches.
In the Federal realm, we see crimes divided into Class A through Class E tiers. At this level, each conviction can carry a fine of up to $250,000. A lot depends on how severe the crime was, and whether or not the perpetrator had a record of prior offenses.
Third Degree Felony Acts in Texas
In the state of Texas, the court system would probably impose a penalty of from two years’ incarceration up to and possibly including ten years, for a Third-Degree Felony conviction.
In the state of Texas, just as in every state in the nation, there is an entire library of state regulations, federal court rules, administrative rules and statutes (a formal written “act” or laws passed by a legislative body) which affect the outcome of all sentencing.
Keep in mind that your attorney may be able to help the courts determine that the charge is incongruous with the facts. This is known as “beating the charge”. Or, your attorney may be able to seek and obtain probation for you.
What is Probation?
Your attorney will be able to explain which of these regulations apply to you.
Probation is a form of sentencing which the courts can mete out to felons or misdemeanor offenders. In a nutshell, it substitutes for prison time, and satisfies the court requirements for restitution. It is still a “penalty”.
In a felony charge, the probationary period can go up to five years. Note: an attorney advises, in many such cases, that—usually after the subject has served half of his allotted term—a reduction in probation time be sought.
When probation is mandated by the courts, the felon will, in all likelihood, have regular, official meetings with a Probation Officer.
What Constitutes a Probation Officer Meeting?
During the regularly-scheduled meetings with a Probation Officer, the felon will be required to provide information as to the persons with whom he or she is living; where he or she is employed, etc.
The subject will also provide his or her work schedule. It is important that the Probation Officer be able to “keep tabs” on the whereabouts of the subject. The purpose is to see that the subject is meeting the requirements of probation, and is staying out of trouble.
What Else Is Required of the Felon on Probation?
A quarterly report of financial income must be filed by the subject. (This is to verify a stable economic situation.) . Too, if the subject has been found to be in need of counseling for chemical dependency, they may have to provide proof that they are attending group meetings, such as AA or NA.
Occasionally, it may be required of the felon that they submit to testing for “drugs”. Finally, the subject must allow access to, and inspection of his or her residence (to show that there are no concealed weapons or illegal substances on the premises).
There might also be limits on travel. Keep in mind that these restrictions will come to an end as soon as the subject has complied with the sentence.