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The state of Texas classifies criminal offenses based on the seriousness of the offense. There are two categories: felonies and misdemeanors. These classes and offenses are classified into the following subcategories:

Felonies:

 A Felony is one of the most serious types of criminal offense that an individual can commit.  Because felonies constitute crimes of “high seriousness,” the penalties for any degree of felony are severe, including prison, heavy fines, life-sentences and even death penalties (in certain states). An individual may be convicted of a felony if the court proves beyond reasonable doubt that the individual has committed a felony.

Capital Felony:  death or life imprisonment

1st Degree Felony- 5 to 99 years imprisonment; and may also be fined up to $10,000

2nd Degree Felony: 2 to 20 years imprisonment; and may also be fined up to $10,000

3rd Degree Felony: 2 to 10 years imprisonment; and may also be fined up to $10,000

State Jail Felony: 180 days to 2 years in state jail and an optional fine not to exceed $10,000 OR the Court may impose Class A misdemeanor punishment

 Misdemeanors:

Misdemeanors are crimes considered and treated less severely than felonies.  A single crime, according to the intentions, circumstances, and consequences, may be categorized as a misdemeanor or a felony.    Although misdemeanors and felonies are classified into degrees, the distinction between the two consists on the fact that misdemeanors are considered crimes of “low seriousness” while felonies are considered crimes of “high seriousness.”  Also, in the majority of jurisdictions around the United States, a misdemeanor is a crime with a maximum sentence of no more than one year in jail, a fine, or both.

Class A Misdemeanor: up to 1 year in county jail and/or a fine up to $4,000

Class B Misdemeanor: up to 180 days in county jail and/or a fine up to $2,000

Class C Misdemeanor: a fine up to $500


 

Driving while intoxicated is illegal in Texas and a conviction carries serious consequences, including possible driver license suspension, fines and jail. If you are being accused of driving while intoxicated, you need an experienced attorney by your side. The legal limit of blood alcohol level is 0.08. However, you may be arrested even if you have less than 0.08 if the officer suspects you have been driving while you are intoxicated.

Under Texas law, a person is intoxicated if he/she has lost the normal use of his/her physical or mental faculties by consuming alcohol or drugs or having an alcohol concentration of .08 or more.

 The signs that an officer will generally observe are: speeding/driving too slow, alcohol breath, glassy eyes, and slurred speech among other signs of intoxication. If the police officer suspects you are intoxicated he might ask you to perform a roadside field sobriety test that includes walk and turn, one leg stand, ABC test and Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus among others. In the event of failing any of these tests, the officer may request a breath or blood alcohol content test.

 What are the legal consequences of a DWI?

First offense-

  • 3 to 180 days in jail
  • Fines up to $2,000
  • License suspension from 3 months to 1 year

Second offense-

  • 30 days to one year in jail
  • Fines up to $4,000
  • License suspension for 180 days to 2 years
  • Possible ignition interlock device installation*

Third offense-

  • 2 to 10 years in jail
  • Fines up to $10,000
  • License suspension of 180 days to 2 years
  • Possible ignition interlock device installation

*An ignition interlock device is similar to a Breathalyzer installed in the vehicle’s dashboard. This device prevents the engine to start if the blood alcohol level exceeds 0.08.


If you have received a ticket, a court appearance and date will appear on the bottom close to your signature line. At this court date you will have to state whether you plead guilty or not guilty. If you plead not guilty, you may have a trial or negotiate an agreement with the State. Paying the citation will result in a finding of guilt against you and will be reported to the DPS as a conviction. That conviction may put points on your driving record and may increase your insurance premium and cause you to have to pay additional surcharges to DPS

In Texas, driving is a privilege, not a right. It can be taken away from you any moment. We must not take our driving privilege for granted. Several traffic violations can result in the loss of your driver’s license, whether personal or commercial.

Our goal is to keep the offense from going onto your driving record with the best terms possible since it could adversely affect your personal or professional life. If you have a commercial driver’s license, the license suspension could result in the loss or suspension of your job. Remember:  if you fail to appear in court, a warrant will be issued for your arrest.

Benefits of hiring an attorney for a ticket:

1-      May have ticket dismissed

2-      May keep it off your record

3-      May avoid OMNI fees

4-      May avoid or reduce fine

5-      May get you more time to pay fine

6-      May help avoid surcharges from the state (e.g. extra fines, suspended license)


A drug charge is a serious offense and the penalties can be severe. The severity of the punishment depends on various factors including criminal history, type and quantity of drugs and circumstances of offense. Penalties include incarceration, fines, probation, diversion and rehabilitation.

 

The common types of drug offenses are usually:

 

  •  Drug Possession- possession of one or more drugs.
  •  Conspiracy- agreement between two or more people to commit a crime.
  •  Drug Trafficking- manufacture, delivery, sale or importation of drugs.
  •  Paraphernalia- possession of items that are used in relation to drug crimes (pipes, needles, among others)

 

 

Drug Trafficking: Texas law defines drug-trafficking as knowingly selling, purchasing, manufacturing, delivering or bringing into this state, or being in actual or constructive possession of, a controlled substance.

 

Drug Possession: The government must prove that the person had care, custody and control of the illegal drug. An experienced drug trafficking defense attorney will know how to attack the state’s case on this issue. There may be several defenses to possession.

 

Drug Smuggling: Drug smuggling is the act of transporting any controlled substance into Texas illegally with the intent to either distribute or possess it. Because drug smuggling often involves crossing state lines, it is a federal crime and follows federal sentencing guidelines.

 

Drug Possession with Intent to Distribute: Being charged with possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute increases the seriousness of any drug related charge. Several factors could lead to this charge, including storing controlled substances in small packages or even having a notepad with phone numbers and schedules in the defendant’s home.

 

How are the drug offenses classified?

 

The Texas Controlled Substances Act classifies drug charges into 4 groups known as Penalty Groups.

 

Penalty Group 1- This group consists of opium derivatives that include Cocaine, Heroin, Methamphetamines, Oxycontin, “Speed”, Hydrocodone and the Date Rape drugs (Rohypnol, GHB, Ketamine) among others.

 

Penalty Group 1A- The substances in this group consist of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) and its derivatives.

 

Penalty Group 2- This group consists of hallucinogenic substances and their derivatives including Ecstasy, PCP and Mescaline.

 

Penalty Group 3- This group includes substances such as Valium, Xanax, Ritalin, Ambien and Hydrocodone among others.

 

Penalty Group 4- Substances in this group include Ethylmorphine and Buprenorphine among other narcotics. 


Weapons charges include the sale, distribution, use and possession of illegal weapons including firearms, knifes and explosives.

People carrying concealed handguns must have a permit. It is a requirement of the state of Texas for every applicant to go through background checks. Applicants must submit fingerprints to the Department of Public Safety which monitors all licensed gun holders to ensure their continued eligibility.

The most common type of weapons charges are:

  • Unlawful use of weapons
  • Weapons trafficking
  • Violent crimes using a weapon
  • Unlawful possession of guns

Domestic violence is any act of violence against a member of the family or household member. This behavior consists of abuse from a person against another involved in a relationship (intimate, cohabitant or family). Violent acts include physical harm, bodily injury, sexual abuse or stalking. Domestic violence crimes can be charged as misdemeanors or felonies depending on the severity of crime, circumstances and factors. Penalties may include, jail, fines, probation, treatment programs, restraining orders, custodial rights and restitution among others.

What is assault?

 

In Texas, there are three ways a person can commit the crime of Assault. He/she can:

  • Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause bodily injury to another,
  • Intentionally or knowingly threaten another with imminent bodily injury, or
  • Intentionally or knowingly cause physical contact with another when he knows or should reasonably believe that the other will regard the contact as offensive or provocative.

What is aggravated assault?

In Texas, Aggravated Assault is when a person commits assault and he/she either:

  • Causes serious bodily injury to another, or
  • Uses or exhibits a deadly weapon during the commission of the assault.

What are the collateral consequences of a family violence conviction?

Overall, when one considers collateral consequences, the government treats the assault of a family member as a more serious crime than the assault of a stranger. It isn't uncommon for Travis County judges to issue emergency protective orders (EPOs) in family violence cases that forbid defendants from returning to their homes and sometimes even prevents them from seeing their children. If children were present at the time of the incident then Texas CPS (Child Protective Services) may also investigate.

In divorce court, a family violence conviction can be used to deny child custody and limit visitation rights. A family violence conviction can also cause you to permanently lose for any reason. If you are in the military, you may be discharged; if you work in law enforcement, you may be reassigned or fired.

A family violence conviction could cost you a professional license or, if you are a skilled tradesman, make it impossible for you to be bonded. It will appear in your criminal record and will show up in pre-employment and pre-leasing background checks.

Non-citizens convicted of family violence may be denied a green card or deported and denied re-entry.

If you are convicted of even the lowest level of family violence assault, any future misdemeanor family violence or stalking charges may be prosecuted and punished as third degree felonies and you are permanently disqualified for an order of non-disclosure  if you successfully complete deferred adjudication probation  for any type of offense in the future.

 

What if the alleged victim is not actually a family member?

Texas law allows prosecutors to seek a "family violence" conviction even when the defendant and alleged victim are not what one might ordinarily consider family. In addition to blood relatives, a family violence allegation can be made against a foster child or parent, former spouse, domestic partner, roommate, boyfriend, girlfriend, and even a former boyfriend or girlfriend. Depending on the relationship, the term "dating violence" is sometimes used in place of "family violence."

 

 

What does "bodily injury" mean in an assault case?

You might think the term "bodily injury" would require some sort of visible injury like a cut or even a bruise but the legal definition includes mere physical pain. As a result, you can be charged with "Assault with Bodily Injury," a Class A Misdemeanor and jailable offense, if you are accused of merely slapping another person or pulling his or her hair.

The definition of "serious bodily injury" is more intuitive. It means bodily injury that "creates a substantial risk of death or that causes death, serious permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ."

 

What if the alleged victim wasn't really hurt?

Texas law does not require the alleged victim to sustain an actual injury in an assault case. Physical contact that merely causes pain can suffice for an assault with "bodily injury," which is a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in the county jail and a fine of up to $4,000 (note that a jail sentence may be probated, depending on various factors, in which case a defendant may not actually spend any time in jail).

Furthermore, a mere verbal threat or "offensive" physical contact can qualify as Class C Misdemeanor Assault under Texas law. This lesser assault is the equivalent of a traffic ticket.


Theft- Texas law provides for various degrees of theft, ranging from simple Class C misdemeanors that are punishable by a fine to first degree felonies, which may result in life in prison. It is the value of the theft or property damage that will largely determine whether an accused is charged with a misdemeanor or felony violation.

An individual can be charged with robbery under Tex. Penal Code § 29.02 if they intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause injury to another person during the commission of a theft offense. An alleged offender can also be charged with this offense if they intentionally or knowingly threaten another person with injury or death or cause them to fear injury or death during the commission of a theft offense. This offense can generally result in a felony of the second degree conviction

Robbery and aggravated robbery are serious offenses. A person may be charged with aggravated robbery if during an attempt of taking another person’s property, he or she knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to the victim. This type of theft is characterized by the use of violence or intimidation to take another person’s property by using or showing a weapon.

In order to be convicted with aggravated robbery, the state has to prove beyond reasonable doubt that:

  • Serious bodily injury was made during offense
  • There was use or exhibition of weapons 

Forgery crimes are “white collar” crimes which means they are nonviolent. Forgery involves the falsification of any type of legal documents, checks, and signatures among others with the intent to deceive. The most common types of forgery crimes are check and signature tampering. Forgery crimes can be punished with a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the monetary value of the offense and circumstances. If the victim is an elderly person, the offense may be raised to a higher degree.

Embezzlement cases are commonly known as financial fraud. In these cases a person is entrusted with monetary sums and such sums are held or used for personal purposes. People who usually commit these types of crimes are trustees, employees, bank representatives, brokers and public officials. 

Penalties for embezzlement crimes are more severe if victim was:

  • A public official
  • 65 years or older
  • Government employee
  • Member of a nonprofit organization 

3G Offenses

In Texas criminal cases, the term “3G” is used to indicate that a particular crime is very serious. The term 3g gets its meaning from the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Section 3G, the Limitation on Judge Ordered Community Supervision, or what is commonly known as probation. If an offender is serving a sentence for a 3G crime they must have credit for one half of their sentence before they are  eligible  for parole.  If they were sentenced to ten years they will not be eligible for parole for five years.  Below is a list of 3G crimes: 

 A crime where there is an affirmative deadly weapon finding in the judgment

  • Capital Murder
  • Murder
  • Indecency with a Child by Contact
  • Aggravated Kidnapping
  • Aggravated Sexual Assault
  • Sexual Assault
  • Aggravated Robbery
  • Injury to an Child, Disabled Person or Elderly Person
  • Criminal Solicitation
  • Sexual performance with a child

The parole revocation process starts with an alleged violation.  It can be a Technical Violation (Rule No. 1 Violation - Failure to Report, Rule No. 3 Violation - Changing Residence without Parole Officers Permission, etc.) or an Alleged New Offense (Rule No. 2 Violation - Theft, DWI, Assault, Possession of a Controlled Substance, etc.).

If there the Parole Officer believes a violation has occurred, he or she submits a request for issuance of a blue warrant (referred to as a blue warrant because the hard copy of the warrant is actually blue) to their supervisor who, if in agreement, submits the request for issuance of a blue warrant to The Board of Pardons and Parole in Austin. A blue warrant is issued.

When a blue warrant is issued, the parolee will then be arrested the next time he or she reports or is stopped by a police officer.

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