If a Texas police officer takes you into custody, the next days, weeks or months of your life might be quite stressful. Facing criminal charges has immediate implications but can also have a long-term, far-reaching effect on your life, as well. Understanding the degree of criminality associated with the charges against you may help you better understand the legal aspects of your case. For instance, it’s a good idea to know the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony.
You may have heard it said that misdemeanors are “not as serious” as felonies. The fact is, any time you’re accused of a crime, it’s a serious matter. However, certain incidents or issues may concern grave matters while others are associated with more minor issues. For instance, most people would think it more serious to face assault charges than to have accidentally trespassed on private property.
The same crime might be a misdemeanor or a felony
A police officer might arrest you for a suspected misdemeanor DUI. However, if your blood alcohol content level was double the legal limit or you had a child in your vehicle at the time, the level of severity of the charges against you might raise to a felony crime. Felonies typically carry more severe penalties than misdemeanors.
In Texas, there are Classes A, B and C misdemeanor crimes. The latter is the least severe. If the court convicts you of a Class C misdemeanor, you might have to pay a $20 fine. A Class A misdemeanor, on the other hand, is finable up to $4,000.
Felonies typically carry stiff penalties that include imprisonment
For a third-degree felony crime, you could go to prison for two to 10 years under conviction. A first-degree felony is punishable in Texas with a life sentence. Regardless of the level of severity of the crimes for which you’ve faced accusations, it’s understandable that you’d want to try to find a way to mitigate your circumstances as much as possible.
If you hold a license of some kind, such as to practice medicine or teach children, etc., you’d likely be worried about suspension of that license if charged with a crime. It would be especially prudent, in such cases, to learn as much as you can about the differences between misdemeanors and felony crimes, and also to know where to seek outside support if a particular legal problem were to arise.