Federal and state acknowledge that some crimes are more severe than others. The general principle is that minor crimes, usually called misdemeanors, are punishable by fines, community service, probation, short stints in the county jail, or some combination thereof. More severe crimes, known as felonies, can involve lifelong consequences, and therefore the rights of due process afforded to people accused of these crimes are more complex. For example, you cannot lose your right to vote because of a misdemeanor conviction, but you automatically lose this right, along with the right to own a firearm, if you are convicted of a felony. The criminal process for felony cases is often more complex, involving grand jury indictments and with attempts to persuade the judge not only of a defendant’s innocence or guilt but also of an appropriate sentence for a convicted defendant. Meanwhile, the categorization of crimes varies from one state to another; an obvious outlier in New Jersey, which uses the terms “disorderly persons offense” and “indictable offense” instead of “misdemeanor” and “felony,” and where DWI that does not result in a collision is merely a traffic infraction instead of a crime. A Texas sex crime attorney can help you if you are being accused of a sex crime categorized as a misdemeanor, a felony, or a state jail felony.
What Is a State Jail Felony?
When is a felony not a felony? In addition to misdemeanors and felonies, Texas law recognizes a third category of crimes. These medium-severity offenses are known as state jail felonies. They bear all the hallmarks of felonies, except that the penalty for a conviction for a state jail felony does not include incarceration in state prison. It does, however, include a jail sentence that can range from six months to two years. If you are convicted of a state jail felony, the court can also order you to pay a fine of up to $10,000.
Examples of state jail felonies include vehicular homicide, animal cruelty, identity theft, check forgery, and evading arrest with a vehicle. As for sex offenses, failure to register as a sex offender when required to do so is a state jail felony. Simply because you hear the phrase “state jail felony” when your lawyer explains your case, it does not mean that staying out of state prison is a sure thing. Small technicalities can lead to the state upgrading a state jail felony to a third-degree felony, which can carry a sentence of up to ten years in state prison. Therefore, it is important to work closely with your criminal defense lawyer at every stage of your case.
Contact the Law Office of Patrick J. McLain, PLLC About Sex Crime Cases
A criminal defense attorney can help you avoid getting your charges of failure to comply with sex offender registration duty upgraded to a third-degree felony punishable by time in state prison. Contact the Law Office of Patrick J. McLain, PLLC in Dallas, Texas to discuss your case.