Many people are familiar with the terms “misdemeanor” and “felony” but what is the difference? Knowing what each entails is critical to understanding the charges against a person, the seriousness of the offense, and the possible extent of consequences if convicted in Texas.
Generally states divide crimes into two classes: Misdemeanors and Felonies. Usually there is also a third class that consists of very basic violations such as traffic violations (that themselves carry no possibility of jail time and often only a fine.)
Misdemeanor Offenses in Houston
Misdemeanors are usually thought of as lesser offenses ‐ an example of would be a minor drug offense. Typically a misdemeanor conviction would consist of less than year in jail (typically county or city jail, not prison) and fines ‐ sometimes very large fines. While it is true that to some extent misdemeanors are less serious than felonies, multiple misdemeanor offenses can become quite serious. For example, if several misdemeanors carried a year in jail and those terms were to be served consecutively one after another that could equate to multiple years in jail. Thus, even with a misdemeanor it is important to understand the nature of the offense in question as well as the possible consequences of a conviction.
If charged with a misdemeanor you do have the right to an attorney and the court will appoint one if you cannot afford a lawyer. You will have an opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty and in some cases a jury trial can be set ‐ although usually a smaller jury than a 12 person jury. It is very often the case that a more favorable outcome can be reached, even in misdemeanor charges, with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Therefore if you can afford an attorney it is almost always in your best interest to retrain a lawyer that is devoted to your case. Even in economic hardship many attorneys will work with you. Carl Haggard of The Haggard Law Firm does allow for reasonable payment plans.
Felony Offenses in Houston
Felonies are usually consider significantly more serious offenses than misdemeanors. Felony offenses are typically divided into degrees, e.g. a first degree felony is the most serious and consists of offenses such as murder. However, in Texas even a third offense DWI is a felony. Felony convictions often carry very large fines up to $10,000 but also prison sentences exceeding one year and sometimes the death penalty. Unlike misdemeanors where a person may serve their sentence in a county jail close to home and family, felony inmates must accommodate the particular circumstances of the prison facilities and can (and often) are moved to facilities far from home.
Felony convictions can have long-lasting consequences for one’s life even after a prison sentence is served. One may lose one’s right to own firearms and be ineligible for certain employment opportunities in the legal field, education, and armed forces.
While a lawyer can often produce a more favorable outcome in misdemeanor offenses, unlike some misdemeanors if you are charged with a felony in Texas it is absolutely essential to retrain experienced legal counsel for representation. You need a lawyer that understands the system and has a verifiable winning record. Carl Haggard has over 30 years of experienced defending clients against felony charges in Houston, TX and is ready to fight for you. Whether your charge is a misdemeanor or felony call today and schedule a free confidential consultation regarding your case. You will personally speak with an attorney who cares and believes that every accused deserves the best legal defense possible.