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Felony Offenses

Felonies are treated more seriously than misdemeanor offenses. Felony offenses also carry harsher penalties. In Texas, felony offenses are prosecuted in the District Courts.

The law provides for a wide range of the punishments for each type of offense. Some types of crimes qualify for more a different classification depending on the way the crime is committed or the damage caused. Prosecutors in Texas have broad discretion when deciding what charge should be filed and how the case should be resolved before trial.

In Texas, all felony offenses are classified as either a state jail felony, a third-degree felony, a second degree felony, a first-degree felony or a capital felony as explained in Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 12.04.

Attorneys for Felony Offenses in San Antonio, TX

 If you were arrested for a felony charge in San Antonio or Bexar County, TX, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Goldstein, Goldstein, Hilley & Orr. Contact us for a free and confidential consultation to discuss the charges pending against you, the potential penalties that can be imposed, and the best ways to fight the charges.

Let us put our experience to work for you. Call 210-226-1463.


Maximum Penalties for Felony Offenses

Felony offenses are classified in the following ways:

  • State jail felony - State jail felonies are punishable by 180 days to 2 years in prison with a fine of up to $10,000;
  • Third-degree felony - Third-degree felonies are punishable by 2-10 years with a fine of up to $10,000;
  • Second-degree felony - Second-degree felonies are punishable by 2-20 years with a fine of up to $10,000;
  • First degree felony - First-degree felonies are punishable by 5-99 years in prison or life in prison with a fine of up to $10,000; 
    • Under Tex. Penal Code §12.32, if a person is found guilty of a first-degree felony, the court can impose imprisonment:
      • for life; or
      • not more than 99 years; or
      • not less than five years (with the exception of aggravated sexual assault, which adds a 25-year minimum punishment if the victim is younger than 6, or younger than 14 and the offense contained threats of serious bodily injury or death, or use of a deadly weapon).
  • Capital felony - Capital felonies are punishable by execution. A capital felony is prosecuted in the district court with automatic appeal to Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
    • Under Tex. Penal Code Ann. §12.31, if a person is found guilty and the state seeks the death penalty then the court can impose imprisonment in prison for life without the possibility of parole, or death.
    • If the person is found guilty of a capital felony and the state does not seek the death penalty then the court can impose imprisonment in prison for life without the possibility of parole, however, a person who was under the age of 18 years old at the time of the offense are no longer eligible for life without parole.

Enhancements for Felony Offenses

Certain types of enhancements explained in Tex. Penal Code §12.42(d) can apply to any felony (other than a state jail felony) when it is shown at the trial that the person has been previously convicted of two felonies, and the second previous felony conviction is for an offense that occurred subsequent to the first previous conviction having become final.

If convicted, the defendant shall be punished by imprisonment in the institutional division for life, or for not more than 99 years or less than 25 years.


Statute of Limitations for Felony Crimes in Texas

Under Texas law, the statutes of limitations are the time limits during which the state must begin criminal prosecution. If a case is initiated after the statute of limitations has run, then the defendant can file a motion so that the case can be dismissed. The more serious the offense, the longer the statute of limitations period. Some crimes in Texas, such as murder, have no statute of limitations.


Additional Resources

Maximum Punishments for Felonies in Texas - Visit the website of the Texas Politics Project to learn more about the degrees of felony offenses in Texas including the offense level, the statutory maximum punishments, examples, and the court with original jurisdiction.

Texas Penal Code Offenses by Punishment Range - Visit the website of the Texas Attorney General to find updates from the 84th Legislative Session on punishment by offense classification and penalties for repeat and habitual offenders.


This article was last updated on Wednesday, November 22, 2017.

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