Texas Criminal Punishment Ranges

A Guide to Punishment and Penalties for Different Crimes in Texas 

The charge of an offense determines the punishment for a crime in Texas. However, there are wide variations and exceptions both in misdemeanor and felony cases. This is due to the classification of different crimes and also the existence of several categories within a specific criminal behavior. Apart from the crime, the past record, circumstances leading to the offense, and the level of criminality play a role in influencing the selection of punishments. 

Sounds too complex? Yes, it is indeed confusing but that is why having a Houston criminal attorney to advise on the exact type of punishment and legal options. A criminal lawyer can guide you on the quantity and extent of sentencing associated with a crime in Texas. 

Here is a general overview of various types of crimes and the broad range of punishments imposed by the Texas state court.

Misdemeanor vs Felony

Any criminal behavior in Texas broadly falls into either of two types – misdemeanor or felony depending on the crime and the term of prison sentence awarded. Persons convicted of misdemeanors are punished up to a year of imprisonment at a local or county jail while for felonies they are remanded to state prisons for more than a year.

In Texas, misdemeanors are listed as less serious crimes that do not involve any great act of violence. It is just an illegal action leading to physical, financial or moral harm to the victim. The offender may have to pay fines, do community service, serve probation, or serve a jail term ranging from a few days up to a year. 

Felonies are serious crimes involving violence, drugs or theft. Any violent action causing physical or financial injury comes under this class of crimes. The punishment may include extensive penalties with or without jail terms ranging from one year to several years.

Get in touch with a Houston criminal attorney to know about the best possible defense against a criminal charge in Texas.

Types of Felonies

Capital Felony

It is the highest level of crime in Texas and is punishable up to a death sentence or life imprisonment. The accused is denied any parole while he is in jail. 

The following acts are considered a capital felony in Texas courts.

  • An act of planned or premeditated murder 
  • Causing multiple deaths, death to a police officer, or intentional death
  • Murder following a crime or with guns
  • Espionage, treason
  • Genocide 

Not all capital felonies lead to a death sentence. Consult an experienced Houston criminal lawyer to review your case.

First Degree Felony

It is the second-highest level of crime in Texas and imposes punishment between five and 99 years of imprisonment. Courts can impose fines up to $10,000. There may also be the condition of community supervision. 

Any of the following criminal actions come under this class of crime. 

  • Sexual assault on a child
  • Trafficking a minor below 14 years of age 
  • Solicitation of capital murder or attempted capital murder
  • Aggravated kidnapping, robbery, sexual assault
  • Burglary with a plan to commit or leading to a felony
  • Action leading to physical injury to a child, senior citizen, or disabled person 
  • Escape from custody resulting in a physical injury
  • Aggravated sexual assault 
  • Arson of habitation leading to a felony
  • Murder
  • Aggravated assault on a public servant

If you are ever charged with any of these felonies, hire a reliable criminal attorney in Houston to put up a solid defense and minimize the punishment.

Second Degree Felony

This category of serious crimes is less severe compared to first degree felonies. Punishment varies from two to 20 years of jail term. There may be a fine up to $10,000 with the possibility of community supervision.

One is tried for second degree felony if he commits any of the following.

  • Human trafficking
  • Manslaughter
  • Indecent contact with a child
  • Causing death under intoxication
  • Bigamy, robbery, bribery, arson, or sexual assault
  • Online solicitation of a minor under 14
  • Stalking for the second time
  • Possessing marijuana exceeding 50 pounds but less than 2,000 pounds
  • Aggravated assault
  • Improper educator-student relationship
  • Evading or resisting arrest leading to the death of another

In case you are charged with second-degree felonies, consult a good Houston criminal attorney to plan a successful defense.

Third Degree Felony

Anyone convicted of this type of crime faces imprisonment from two to ten years. A Texas court is at liberty to order community supervision with or without a fine not exceeding $10,000.

The following criminal acts qualify to be tried as third degree felonies.

  • Assault under intoxication 
  • Lying under oath in the court
  • Tampering with evidence
  • Escape from the custody when arrested for a felony
  • Jumping bail when charged with a felony
  • Stalking
  • Indecent exposure to a child
  • Third arrest on a DWI charge
  • Possession of a firearm by a felon 
  • A third violation of a protective order 
  • Possessing a firearm as a felon

Meet an experienced Houston criminal attorney to know exceptions to punishments when charged with a third-degree felony. 

State Jail Felonies

The least serious of all felonies, one convicted of these crimes may get imprisonment ranging from 6 months to two years. It also carries a potential fine up to $10,000 and a likely court order for community supervision. 

State jail felonies include the following types of criminal behavior.

  • Credit card abuse, forged check  
  • False report
  • Criminally negligence leading to death
  • Unauthorized use of vehicles
  • Building burglary
  • Criminal nonsupport
  • Fleeing in a vehicle to avoid being arrested
  • Possession of illegal drugs (not more than 1 gram)
  • DWI while having a child in the car
  • Interference in child custody
  • Improper photography
  • Theft involving stuff valued between $1,500 and $20,000
  • Unauthorized use of another’s identifying information
  • Forcing a minor to join a gang with a threat of violence
  • Cruelty to animals

Don’t delay in hiring a Houston criminal attorney as soon as you face a charge of state jail felony.


Types of Misdemeanors


Class A Misdemeanor

Any criminal behavior proved to be a Class A misdemeanor may lead to a jail term up to 12 months and a possible fine of up to $4,000. There is also a provision for community supervision up to 2 years with one-year extension option. If you have the support of an expert Houston criminal attorney, they may help you seek a deferred adjudication successfully. 

The following criminal behavior invites Class A misdemeanor charges.

  • Obscenity, public lewdness
  • Lawful possession of a weapon 
  • Assault causing injury
  • Second arrest for DWI
  • Resisting arrest or evading arrest on foot
  • Burglary of vehicles or coin-operated machines
  • Jumping bail or escaping from custody when charged for misdemeanor 
  • Perjury or violating oath in a court
  • Caught with 2 to 4 ounces of marijuana
  • Encouraging gambling, check theft
  • Cruelty to animals
  • Animal cruelty
  • Obstructing a 911 call

Class B Misdemeanor

If you are charged a Class B Misdemeanor, you face imprisonment up to 180 days and community supervision for a period up to 2 years with an option for an extension by another year. The court may also impose a fine, which must not exceed $2,000.

The examples of Class B Misdemeanor include:

  • Criminal trespass, riot
  • Threat of violence
  • Harassment
  • Indecent exposure, prostitution
  • Possessing marijuana (2 ounces or less)
  • DWI arrest
  • Possession of a fake degree 
  • Lying to police officials 
  • Fraudulent degree
  • Silent Calls to 911

If you are a first-time offender charged with a Class B Misdemeanor, consult a capable Houston criminal attorney about plea bargaining and the possibility of deferred adjudication.

Class C Misdemeanor

Carrying a fine of $500 or less, this class includes the least serious of all types of crimes in Texas. You may be charged with a Class C Misdemeanor if you are found to have committed any of the following crimes.

  • Threat 
  • Petty theft
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Gambling
  • Traffic citation
  • Unauthorized use of laser pointers
  • Shoplifting 
  • Issuing a bad check
  • Public intoxication
  • Violation of underage alcohol possession rules
  • Leaving a child alone in a vehicle
  • Simple assault
  • Bail jumping

Contact the best criminal defense attorney in Texas and explore options on how to protect yourself from punishments and its future consequences. Contact Zavala Texas Law to know your options.


Felony Punishment Ranges
Offense Maximum Punishment Examples Court with Original Jurisdiction
Capital felony Execution Capital murder District court, with automatic appeal to Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
First degree felony 5-99 years or life; $10,000 fine Theft of property valued at $200,000 or more; aggravated sexual assault District court
Second-degree felony 2-20 years;
$10,000 fine
Theft of property valued at $100,000 or more, but less than $200,000; aggravated assault; reckless injury to a child District court
Third-degree felony 2-10 years;
$10,000 fine
Theft of property valued at $20,000 or more, but less than $100,000; drive-by shooting with no injury District court
State jail felony 180 days to 2 years; $10,000 fine Theft of property valued at $1,500 or more, but less than $20,000; credit card or debit card abuse District court
Misdemeanor Punishment Ranges
Offense Maximum Punishment Examples Court with Original Jurisdiction
Class A misdemeanor 1 year;
$4,000 fine
Burglary; theft of property valued at $500 or more, but less than $1,500; theft of cable service; stalking without bodily injury Constitutional county court or county court at law
Class B misdemeanor 180 days;
$2,000 fine
Theft of property valued at $20 or more, but less than $500; driving while intoxicated; possession of up to 4 ounces of marijuana; making terroristic threats Constitutional county court or county court at law
Class C misdemeanor $500 fine Theft of property valued at less than $20; assault without bodily injury; producing or selling term papers or reports for use by others; attending a dog fight Justice of the Peace Court

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